Progress is being made, but not on this issue

I’m baffled and confused about how the Honourable Michael Sukkar, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer is the politician (Liberal Party of Australia) who has the power to issue a compulsory vehicle safety recall, but nevertheless I think it is good news that the Takata airbag recall has been changed from voluntary to compulsory (I’m not sure if it has also been broadened) but I want to emphasize that the Takata recall is unrelated to the airbag safety hazard that has been identified, documented in photographs and discussed in detail in this blog. The issue identified in this blog has been specifically identified in Proton Gen-2 cars produced around the year 2012 which are apparently not fitted with Takata airbags, and is an entirely different type of fault as the one found in the Takata airbags, being a false-firing fault rather than a defective firing with deadly projectile fault. Proton is a car brand that is absent from the Takata airbag recall, and I am currently unable to find any Australian recall on Proton cars of later production than 2003. So, we are still waiting for the Australian government to act in any way upon the vehicle airbag safety issue detailed in this blog.

Here’s a quote from the press release about the Takata airbag recall; “This is the first compulsory recall of vehicles in Australia.” Maybe Michael Sukkar thought this would sound impressive, and I guess it is a big thing for him to put in his CV, but in terms of vehicle safety in Australia, I think it is appalling that this is Australia’ only compulsory vehicle recall. How lame are our governments?


So, who’s the new guy?

It looks like the Australian ministry for infrastructure, transport and regional development has been reorganized following the much-anticipated resignation of Barnaby Joyce as Nationals leader. It looks like the mega-ministry has been carved up between the new Nationals leader Michael McCormack, Liberal MP John McVeigh and Liberal MP Paul Fletcher, and it is my understanding that Fletcher, currently responsible for the ministry for urban infrastructure and cities, is the politician who now has vehicle safety and car recalls as a responsibility in his portfolio. I certainly hope something useful happens during his term!


This was the bloke….

…who was the federal politician who up until yesterday was the Deputy PM of Australia, the Leader of the National Party and also the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, with I believe the power to initiate vehicle safety recalls, having only just taken over that portfolio from Darren Chester in December 2017. I fear Barnaby Joyce might not have been giving his important duties in government his full attention.

Related image


Goodbye to a do-nothing federal minister….

Last month Australia’s Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester was dumped from the Australian federal cabinet in a ministerial reshuffle of the Turnbull government, probably dumped as a result of political battles within the coalition rather than his performance or lack of as a minister. I won’t miss a minister who showed zero interest in the serious vehicle safety hazards in Australia covered in this blog when they were bought to his attention last year, but I can’t say that his shadow Anthony Albanese showed any real interest in those matters either, and I don’t hold out much hope that the new federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Barnaby Joyce will show any interest or do anything at all. Does Australia get the government that it deserves?


Is there anything wrong with this picture?

Gen-2 Proton silver, circa 2013, registered in WA
Gen 2 Proton silver, circa 2013, registered in Western Australia

Here’s a photo of the same model car as the one in the above photo, which we found by chance while doing an online search, which appears to show a similar situation:

The public road upon which this incident happened was faultless, with no potholes or debris on the road with any potential to cause damage to the underside of the car. The road had speed humps, but none on the section of road that the car travelled on before the incident. The driver was the only occupant of the car at the time, with arms that were injured by the deployment of the driver side airbag.

The model of car in the photograph, the Proton Gen-2, has been recalled three times in the UK since 2005, one of those recalls for a fault that can cause a false airbag activation.

Despite these faults, we can find no recalls for the Proton Gen-2 in Australia at the website of the ACCC / Product Safety Australia.

To put this into perspective, this is a make of car that is no longer exported to the UK, following a collection of recalls in the 1990s-2000s, and was never exported to the United States because the Malaysian car company Proton was unable to satisfy stringent US regulatory requirements.,3128810&dq=proton+saga+us&hl=en

Nevertheless, you could buy a Proton tomorrow in Australia, if you so desired.

False airbag activation is more than just a nuisance and a substantial unnecessary repair cost. Car airbag activation commonly causes injury to car occupants. Car airbag activation commonly smashes windscreens, so clearly major forces are unleashed when an airbag deploys.  Researchers have reported a wide spectrum of mild to severe injuries to various parts of the body resulting from normal airbag deployments, including deaths, so any motorist would want to be certain that their car airbags will not deploy abnormally in situations that are not life-threatening.

The risk of death due to normal airbag deployment when a child is seated in a front seat (against safety guidelines) has been well known for many years, but it has also been reported that small adult drivers face a similar risk of death by airbag.

Car airbag deployment can even cause serious injuries to the heart and lungs, a safety hazard which we are sure most drivers would not be aware of.

We would like to make it clear that the primary focus of this article is not the well-publicized potentially-fatal Takata airbag safety hazard, but it is also worth noting that those undeniably dangerous and faulty airbags have also been reported to demonstrate the safety hazard of random or false deployment of airbags.

Arguably, the most tragic outcome that can happen from a false or questionable deployment of a car airbag is the death of a child.

It appears that the car involved with the tragic death of an 8 year old Malaysian girl was a Huyundai Matrix, also known as the Hyundai Elantra LaVita and Hyundai LaVita.

Maybe this tragedy was a factor in this 2016 Australian recall of the Hyundai Elantra’s Airbag Control Logic because “Unintended airbag deployment poses an accident hazard and risk of injury.”

We are wondering why a similar recall has not been made in Australia on the make and model of car in the above photograph. Could it be due to some weakness in Australia’s vehicle safety regulation?

Does an Australian child or adult have to die before the Australian Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, will issue a vehicle safety recall? Would this even happen if an Australian was seriously harmed or killed by the above vehicle hazard? In 2017 the previous minister the Hon. Darren Chester was made aware of all of the circumstances of the airbag incident and he chose to do nothing. When will Australians decide that this inaction must stop?