Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 6 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2031..
Mr Hargreaves (continuing):
opportunity to enter into a good behaviour undertaking under section 19 of the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Act 1999 when their current suspension ends. While these options are already available, the amendments will ensure that affected drivers have sufficient notice of the impending demerit point suspension to make informed decisions about their options.
The bill also makes minor drafting amendments to the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999. These technical amendments simplify the drafting of several provisions in that act and provide a generic description the traffic light offences in division 1 of part 6 of the Australian Road Rules, which contains the basic traffic light offences such as failing to stop at a red light and proceeding through a red light or red arrow. The proposed amendments do not affect the content of the Australian Road Rules, which will continue to apply to ACT drivers.
To simplify that for members, the first part is to provide sufficient notice for people to make decisions. It is possible, for example, to receive a suspension of your licence without knowing it. For example, if you have actually achieved the 12 demerit points, even though you have had some notice, there will be a month or two's difference—say, up to 10 days difference—between when you receive a traffic light infringement notice and the actual withdrawal of those points.
When you receive your notice it tells you that that takes effect from the date of the offence, and there could be a two-week gap between the offence and the notice. If, in that two-week gap, further infringements occur, that will further extend the suspension. Under the current regime people are not necessarily aware of that. They do not realise that that will be on top of the suspension. Sometimes people think it runs concurrently. It does not.
This change to the law will ensure that people receive adequate notice so that they are aware of the opportunities to address their travelling arrangements or reduce the period of their suspension. If, for example, a licence is suspended because of outstanding fines, the timing of that can also affect whether a driver attracts demerit points for going through red light or a speed camera but does not know it for 10 days. This change should make it easier for people to manage.
There has been some confusion in recent times, as evidenced in the Canberra Times, as to where people sit in relation to the law about red light running. Some people think, for example, that if the back wheel of the car is before the white line, then that is fine. Well, that is not so. People have to be aware of the semantics of the law in respect of going through an orange light before the red light change. It is that split second which triggers off the red light camera.
Mr Pratt: So it should.
MR HARGREAVES: And so it should. These changes will make it clearer for people who wish to examine the law to find out where it is they sit. If, for example, they have received an infringement from a red light camera and they think they did not do it and they want to find out what the law actually says, these changes make it more clear that the simple fact is they broke the law when they went through a red light—end of story, game over. These two pieces of legislation are intended to make it absolutely crystal clear to people what the law is. I commend the bill to the Assembly.