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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 5 Hansard (13 May) . . Page.. 1367..


Madam Speaker, the government's amendment I think improves the bill. It helps to provide that balance between the requirement for the police to conduct their duty, to get on with their job, and the rights of the individual. I indicate that it has been a bit of a tortuous process to get to this point. This was first discussed in government briefings where we raised this as an issue.

Government staff at that point indicated that there was going to be an amendment coming forward. Then there was not an amendment; then there was; and I think now we are at the point where there is an amendment. It has been a bit of a tortuous process, but they do say that about the making of legislation, Madam Speaker. But I am glad that we have reached a point where we have struck, I think, a better balance. As I indicated, we will be supporting the amendment that is being moved by the Attorney-General.

In conclusion, the bill contains a number of practical and sensible amendments to the current legislation which aim to enhance the effectiveness of police in the conduct of their duty, particularly around the testing of people for substances which would impede their ability to operate their vehicles safely on our roads. The Canberra Liberals will always seek to make sure that our roads are safe. I will speak further briefly in the detail stage, but we will be supporting this bill.

Visitor

MADAM SPEAKER: Before I call the next member, I acknowledge the presence in the gallery of former member Mr Richard Mulcahy. Welcome to the Assembly.

Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) Amendment Bill 2013

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.47): This bill makes various revisions to the roadside alcohol and drug testing scheme. Firstly, it removes the defence of honest and reasonable mistake of fact where a person drives with a proscribed drug in their oral fluid or blood but believes they have taken a non-proscribed drug that was also a controlled drug. This was an issue I discussed with the Attorney-General, particularly in the context of the care the government needs to take when using these kinds of no-fault offences. I understand the rationale that a person who believed they were taking a controlled drug should not be able to rely on such a defence. It is also relevant that controlled drugs tend to impair driving, but these cannot yet be accurately tested for in the roadside drug testing context. I note also that the attorney has updated the explanatory statement on this issue, providing a section 28 human rights justification for the amendments.

The bill secondly allows police officers to direct drivers to remain at the scene for up to 30 minutes in order to complete an alcohol or drug test. This is in situations where, for example, testing equipment might be faulty or might not be immediately available. Again, I discussed this issue with the Attorney-General and expressed my concern that this should be for occasions when a driver has not been involved in an accident or culpable driving incident and that the police should only be able to exercise the


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