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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (21 September) . . Page.. 3020..

MR PRATT (continuing):

envisage circumstances whereby matters could take longer than three months to be finalised by the court. If a first-time offender's car has been impounded for three months and the matter has not yet gone before the courts, the car may be returned to them.

Mr Speaker, the need for the government to amend the current legislation shows that there are problems within the court system and with police getting cases to court expeditiously and not necessarily with the legislation as it stands. That legislation certainly was good for the times. Perhaps the amendment of this legislation now reflects this growing problem with court delays. We have seen numerous times reports in the media that both our courts and our police are under resourced and that that is to blame to a great extent for the delays. Lots of people are saying that, not just the media. Members of the judiciary have pointed it out.

However, as the legislation is being impacted upon, adjustments need to be made and the suggested amendments seem to be quite fair in that case. They are fair given the reality that we now see and, to that extent, the opposition supports the government's bill. The question that remains, though, is why there are so many people these days driving recklessly and doing burnouts, and that also needs to be looked at. There is a very real concern that this pattern of behaviour has not improved at all over the last five years, or over the last 10 years. Therefore, it is not enough just for this government to change the legislation. It must also look at cause and prevention, not always acting after the event.

Given the growing incidence of dangerous driving offences, the law is simply not tough enough. Given the very poor police presence, tougher penalties are needed to provide for a greater deterrence. Here is an opportunity for that. Yes, the law needed to be made fairer, given the reality that court delays were occurring, so that impounded cars could be returned after, I suppose, 91 days, but there was an opportunity here also for the government to amend this legislation to tackle this growing problem of hoon driving and just bad, rotten behaviour on the roads. Road crime definitely has been going up over the last five years. Injury rates and deaths have doubled; that is a fact.

Mr Corbell: Get your facts straight.

MR PRATT: Keep your hair on, Simon. In the statistics that came out last year the number of road accidents involving serious injury and death doubled the number for the previous year. Those are the facts, Simon, so swallow them. Something needs to be done about that.

Mr Corbell: What is it this year?

MR PRATT: It is certainly improving on last year, but can you sustain it? I would put it to you, minister, that you will not be able to sustain it. You will not be able to sustain it until you have seriously tackled the issues that are causing those accidents. Clearly the number of complaints from clubs, businesses and constituents about burnouts, reckless driving and tailgating continues to grow.

These complaints seem to have increased substantially in the last three years. ABS statistics may not highlight that sort of crime, because it is middle to lower level crime which ABS statistics do not properly capture, but we know from community feedback that it has been on the increase; so it is time to tighten the laws. Minister, I think you

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