Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 741..
Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Bill 2002
Debate resumed from 21 February 2002, on motion by Mr Wood:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MRS CROSS (5.21): The Liberal Party is always prepared to support sensible legislation. This bill provides for clarity in law, which is always a good idea, and re-establishes the nationally agreed principle of applying demerit points from the day of a traffic offence.
These are both sensible measures that we, on this side of the house, are happy to support. Indeed, I would like to thank the minister, Mr Wood, for the discussion we had on this bill this morning, and wish to mention briefly at this time that we also discussed a further aspect, the mutual recognition of demerit points.
Approximately one month ago, I lost a 15-year-old niece in a hit-and-run accident in Sydney, and the driver of the vehicle involved has not been caught. The police suspect that the driver was involved in previous incidents, and probably did not realise that the person knocked over had died. Given that this has some personal implications for me, but also for the community, one of the matters that I would like to look at in the future and discuss further with Mr Wood is repetitive, serious law-breakers. We will perhaps look at deducting the demerit points of these people immediately, rather than doing it in the way we are considering for this legislation at the moment.
As I said, it is something that I trust both parties can work on together in the future, finding a good solution to this type of situation. I would like to thank Mr Wood, once again, for his assistance here. This bill has our full support.
MS DUNDAS (5.23): I rise to say that the Democrats will be supporting this bill also, so it has the support of all sides of the house, as opposed to just both sides of the house. I believe that the principle that this bill seeks to apply is appropriate: that a person who commits offences incurring the relevant number of demerit points within the prescribed period should have their licences suspended, regardless of the date on which demerit points were actually entered onto the register.
When I first viewed this bill, I must admit I was concerned that it might diminish the rights that people currently have to dispute traffic infringement notices before having their licences suspended. I believe it is important that people have a chance to put their case, for example, where they believe that another person was using their vehicle at the time of the offence. After further research, and a briefing from the department and the RTA, I am now confident that existing rights of appeal and due process will not be threatened by this legislation. I am therefore prepared to support this bill.
However, I remind the government and the Assembly that, with all such pieces of legislation, I will be scrutinising them thoroughly to make sure that the rights of individuals are treated fairly and in a transparent manner by government authorities that protect and entrench them.