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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 1164..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

communications to contact the owner and ask them to attend to take possession of the car.

There is no set period of time for which the police, having left a message on the answering machine at the owner's home or on their mobile phone, wait before taking the decision to undertake the tow. Commonsense is applied, given a range of factors, such as the time of day and the likelihood of the owner contacting police quickly. But as a general rule they wait about 10 minutes to get a return call from the owner. If this does not happen, it takes another five or 10 minutes to arrange for a tow and up to another 40 minutes for the tow truck to arrive and secure the vehicle. During that period the police stay with the vehicle.

Depending on whether it is one or two officers and depending on what patrol they are on and what car they are in at the time, they must wait by the vehicle. We do not need officers who should be doing their job staying by vehicles. You have to strike a balance on how you contact the owner. The police rely on their experience in these matters, and they arrange tows accordingly.

MR QUINLAN: I have a supplementary question. Minister, do you think that it is appropriate that, when the owner did view her car and found that there was stolen property in it and informed the police, the police said, "We are not coming out to look at it," having requested her to pop up in five minutes, but requested her to bring that property to the police station? Do you think that the treatment might not have been even-handed in that at 6.00 am the owner was required to come and get the car immediately, but when she found that it contained stolen property she was asked by the police to bring it to them?

MR SMYTH: I will have to make inquiries as to the operational requirements of that time and what occurred in the incident. The police respond accordingly where they can, within the confines of the staff that they have on duty at the time. I will get details from the member and see whether I can get to the bottom of the incident.

Federal Highway

MR KAINE: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services. Minister, I assume that you have seen the recent report in the Canberra Times about a section of the northbound carriageway of the Federal Highway about 300 metres before it crosses the border into New South Wales. Apparently, due to a defect in the construction of this piece of pavement, it becomes extremely dangerous when it is raining and there have been numerous instances of cars spinning out on it. This section is the one that the former Chief Minister and, I believe, you boasted about when it was "ready for traffic" before the section across the border. Whilst the government has been prompt to erect signs on the approach to the dangerous section, the proper remedy is to correct the construction fault. Minister, when is the repair or reconstruction to begin, who will do it and what is the territory's liability for accidents there until reconstruction is complete?

MR SMYTH: The Federal Highway is part of the national road network. I am aware of the article in the Canberra Times. A request has been made to the Australian Federal Police for information in relation to the number of crashes that have occurred there and the indications are that there have been some. We have also commissioned a post-


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