Page 3815 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 30 November 2021
The report makes four recommendations in relation to the bills, public education campaigns and dedicated infrastructure for vulnerable road users. The report also includes a dissenting report. On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank everyone who participated in or assisted with this inquiry. In particular, I thank my colleagues Ms Clay and Mr Parton, and especially the committee secretariat, for all their hard work on this inquiry. I commend the report to the Assembly.
MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (10.21): I rise to speak to the dissenting report tabled in my name. Our committee inquired into two bills before the Legislative Assembly: the Clay bill and the government bill. We ran a really robust inquiry, with 46 submissions and a public hearing. We have produced a solid report that shows the need for a law change to improve road safety. It also shows that we need better education and we need more separated infrastructure. Unfortunately, I do not think one of the recommendations is right and it does not match up with my interpretation of the evidence that was presented. I disagree with committee recommendation 1.
I think the government bill should be passed, but not in its current form. I think it needs amendment. The government bill should be amended to include a traffic infringement notice for the offence of negligent driving causing actual bodily harm, with a penalty set in the range of $900 to $1,200. Most witnesses argued in favour of a traffic infringement notice rather than court-only prosecution, including individual members of the community, Pedal Power ACT, We Ride Australia, the Australian Federal Police Association and the ACT Law Society.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has also noted a strong preference for traffic infringement notices for road traffic offences. The Acting Commander for ACT Policing said that traffic infringement notices were a very useful mechanism and that whether or not it is a court prosecution or a traffic infringement notice, rights are upheld, because if someone wishes to dispute an offence they have the option of going to court. Most witnesses found traffic infringement notices in this context were fair, proportionate, simple and a better use of scarce police and judicial resources. They also argued that an offence with a court-only prosecution would not be enforced at all.
We had an excellent debate about the level of penalty that should apply to the offence of negligent driving that causes actual harm. As a result, I have changed my original recommendation. I now think the penalty should be set somewhere between $900 and $1,200. I also think the amendment should include special protection for vulnerable road users in the new hierarchy of offences, in addition to providing extra protection for all road users.
The need for special protection is backed up by all evidence showing that our roads are getting safer, except for vulnerable road users. Road safety for motorists is improving, but almost half of serious road injuries and more than one-third of road deaths were suffered by vulnerable road users. Minister Steel noted that the 2020 ACT road crash report showed that two fatalities and 190 injuries occurred involving vulnerable road users. This represented 29 per cent of fatalities and 31 per cent of injuries that occurred in 2020. Our vulnerable road users continue to be overrepresented in road casualty statistics.