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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 3 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 710..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

of drugs other than alcohol. We need to educate the public about the extent that the use of particular drugs impairs, the quantities that lead to impairment and how long they need to delay driving after use. One reason why this is difficult is that we are talking about substances where possession and use is illegal, unlike alcohol. That is hardly conducive to full disclosure and public discussion.

Another important action identified in the national strategy is to work with indigenous communities.

Mr Hargreaves: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: this particular amendment bill talks about the procedures for testing blood for an alcohol content after an accident. This is not about the road safety legislation nor about the road transport offences legislation; it is not about acts that this government may or may not be taking in relation to drug and roadside drug-testing, education or anything else. This is a machinery bill. I ask you to seek the member to bring some relevance into the argument.

MR SPEAKER: I agree with you, Mr Hargreaves. Dr Foskey, would you remain relevant, please, to the bill that is before the house.

DR FOSKEY: Thank you for that advice, Mr Speaker, and Mr Hargreaves. I will end there because it is very likely that everything else that I have to say would also be deemed irrelevant.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella-Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.56), in reply: I very quickly address some of the issues from Mr Pratt because he asked me to put my shake of the head on the record. I do so. This piece of legislation is cost neutral and will make no difference at all to the application of resources for policing. It amends the Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) Act in two ways. It clarifies the operation of the act with respect to compulsory blood sampling of people at hospital following a road accident and amends procedures for analysing blood and other body samples taken under the act.

Section 15AA of the act obliges doctors and nurses to take a blood sample from a hospital patient if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the patient is the driver involved in a road accident, notwithstanding that the accident may have occurred many hours or even days before. This open-ended requirement is a source of some concern for doctors and nurses who understandably feel confused by the provision's open-ended nature and are unsure about its practical application to hospital emergency departments across Canberra.

The bill will clarify their obligations by imposing a clear time limit on the taking of blood samples at the hospital following a road accident. This bill makes it clear that doctors and nurses are only obliged to take a blood sample in hospital from a person, under section 15AA of the act, if they attend to a person who they believe has been the driver involved in an accident and the accident occurred less than six hours before the person arrived at the hospital.

The bill also amends the act to update the procedures for analysing blood and other body samples taken under the act. Under the act, part of the sample taken by a doctor or nurse


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