Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 March 2022) . . Page.. 499 ..
negligent driving occasioning actual bodily harm can entail and the subjective nature of the offence.
Ms Clay’s amendment seeks to remove the option for a six-month imprisonment term and replace this with a $900 infringement notice penalty. This amendment undermines the purpose and intention of the new negligent driving offence in the bill. It removes the ability of courts to issue more serious penalties, which include a six-month imprisonment term, so that would not be available for the most serious negligent driving offences occasioning actual bodily harm.
If someone causes harm to another road user, we think that this matter is too serious to deal with through a traffic infringement notice. The question of negligence and the question of harm are also subjective, requiring a level of adjudication by a court, and this is therefore not suitable for a strict liability offence involving a TIN. As causing actual bodily harm through negligent driving is a serious road safety concern, we believe that the behaviour should be considered carefully by a court. The court then should have the ability to set a penalty that is commensurate with the road safety risk while supporting behavioural change. An infringement notice that someone can quickly pay and brush off does not achieve this objective.
Maintaining the option for an imprisonment term also allows for the court to apply a penalty that fits the offence and harm caused, reflecting the range of injuries encompassed by actual bodily harm. Removing it does not strengthen the existing negligent driving framework; in fact, it may recreate the existing issue that the government’s bill attempts to solve, where a person who drives negligently and causes serious but not permanent harm only receives an infringement notice penalty—which was the intention, I believe, of the original bill brought on by Ms Clay, the private member’s bill.
Ms Clay’s proposed penalty of a $900 TIN is also not consistent with the rest of the penalties to be established by the government’s bill and amendments. This would create inconsistency across the penalties applying for different types of offences, undermining the creation of a clear and structured hierarchy that moves from least to most serious road offences. While Ms Clay’s amendment is well intentioned and informed by a genuine desire to ensure that dangerous behaviour on our roads is appropriately penalised, it actually weakens protections for vulnerable road users. We believe that it will create less clarity in the road penalties hierarchy and more instances of dangerous behaviour receiving inconsistent or inadequate penalties. For these reasons, the Labor Party will not be supporting Ms Clay’s amendment.
MR PARTON (Brindabella) (12.04): I am going to speak to the Clay amendments in one hit here. The Canberra Liberals will be supporting the Clay amendments. It is not that we think Mr Steel is wrong. What has been highlighted to us through this process is that both Mr Steel and Ms Clay are right; it is just about the level of how right they are.
As I said in my statement to the bill as a whole, if this bill had gone through unamended it would be a pretty solid piece of legislation. Ms Clay and I find ourselves with some common ground on a lot of things. I am not going to say that