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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3736..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

I would like to express thanks for what I heard around the Assembly, which was in-principle support for these reforms. This has been a much shorter process than, say, standardising the national rail reform. But it is a tremendous step forward that Australia, as a nation, would have a single set of nationally consistent road rules.

So, for the support of the principle of these Bills I would thank the Assembly. The changes in the road rules, particularly for the ACT, are minor, but important. It would be tremendous to see consistent road rules leading to a lessening of confusion interstate visitors experience when they come to Canberra. But the clarification of the requirement for giving way, keeping left unless overtaking on multi-lane roads, banning U-turns at most intersections, banning use of hand-held mobile phones while driving, giving pedestrians right of way of a vehicle on slip lanes, allowing cyclists to make right-hand turns from the left-hand lane intersection and banning skaters and skateboarders from riding on major roads are the most important and fundamental changes to the road rules.

Scrutiny of Bills brought forward a large number of concerns. Many are addressed simply by the fact that these are sections or subsections from existing legislation just brought over into the new Bill. There was some concern about what is known as the Henry VIII clause. But, to ease the committee's concern, I will bring forward an amendment inserting a two-year sunset clause, assuring that any regulations under this clause will expire within six months if they are not put into the legislation. That is an adequate timeframe, say, over a Christmas or July break that regulations we see necessary could become law as quickly as possible.

The Government's response to that report is quite detailed. Where the committee said they had concerns with the section, if it was a section that had just been brought over from existing legislation, I clearly outlined that. Much of what the committee had concern about is already in the existing Acts. So, they have been there for some time and it is clearly laid out. If members require a further briefing or more information on this, the Government would be happy to provide that.

To clarify dates, 1 December is the desired date for the start of this legislation and for the start of the national road rules. All mainland States and Territories, except WA and now the ACT, will meet that deadline. WA intends to have it by March, and Tasmania by October next year. I hope that as quickly as this has progressed through the Assembly we will be able to get it up and running, so that we are nationally consistent on the eastern seaboard of Australia.

Mr Hargreaves this morning said the start date had slipped to the end of March next year. That is not true. What needs to happen by the end of March next year will be an assessment by the National Competition Council of where all jurisdictions are going with their transport reform, of which this is clearly the substantial amount. The intended start date is 1 December. It has always been 1 December and it has not slipped.

Given that there are concerns; given that some members would like more time - although I understand that we agree on the bulk of what is in these Bills - the interesting part in the first sitting week of December will be the question of mandatory sentencing. We will sort that out then. I would like to thank members for their support to get it to this in-principle stage. That is a significant step, not only for the ACT, but also for the

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