Page 493 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022

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The intent of the new offence is to capture harm that is serious in nature but not necessarily permanent. That includes injuries like major bruising, black eyes, cuts or lacerations. These types of harm are most commonly experienced by vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians when other users do not take enough care. The common-law definition of actual bodily harm will apply to the new offence, which is consistent with the approach taken to the existing offence of negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm. The bill includes examples of actual bodily harm to assist the community to understand the application of the new provision. This includes examples focused on vulnerable road users, to help guide both ACT Policing and the community in understanding the kinds of behaviours that this offence intends to capture.

The new offence will attract a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units, currently representing a fine of up to $8,000 and six months imprisonment or both, depending on the severity of the incident. Additionally, a court will have the option to apply its existing discretion to disqualify someone from holding or obtaining a drivers licence if they are found guilty of this offence. These are serious penalties which reflect the serious harm that negligent driving causes. We want to send a clear message that injuring someone on our roads is never okay and will be penalised, even if the injury is not permanent.

Briefly, as well as updating the penalties hierarchy and adding new offences, this bill proposes to increase the existing minimum automatic licence disqualification periods for several driving offences which result in serious harm or death. This ensures that when people have done the wrong thing on our roads and caused serious harm to others there is an appropriate period of time before they are able to be back behind the wheel.

To sum all of that up, the bill and the government amendments establish a stronger hierarchy of penalties that spans new offences for not taking due care and attention or providing reasonable consideration when driving or riding; new and updated offences for driving and riding without having proper control; and new police powers to direct a person to get off or not get on an animal, PMD, bicycle or animal-drawn vehicle, with associated penalties where a direction is ignored. It includes updates to penalties for the existing offence of negligent driving that does not lead to injury or death. It includes a new offence for negligent driving occasioning actual bodily harm to ensure that dangerous behaviour that causes injury to another road user is appropriately recognised and penalised as the serious matter that it is. The hierarchy and the bill include automatic licence disqualification periods for several driving offences which result in serious harm or death.

This bill and the amendments that have been drafted in consultation with key government and community stakeholders have been subject to a detailed inquiry by the Assembly’s planning, transport and city services committee. I thank members of that committee and everyone who participated in the inquiry for their input to help further shape this bill. Together, these reforms strengthen our road penalties to help protect all Canberrans from dangerous behaviour that is not sufficiently captured by our current laws, and to ensure that all Canberrans are aware of their obligations to be

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