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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 3828..


MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

What we are trying to do here I have articulated clearly in that tabling statement, but I want to reiterate that it is a simple act to stop after you have had an accident and arrange for an ambulance to turn up, or to call 000 yourself. It is a pretty low act to just keep driving. At the least, an offence against this act could be a person panicking and driving away. At its worst it can mean someone hitting a pedestrian and callously driving away.

Mr Pratt: As did happen.

MR HARGREAVES: I cannot judge on the nature of callousness in every instance, but certainly interstate experience in recent times has shown us that, all too often, people do not regard the stopping and rendering of assistance as seriously as they do the original accident. People do not understand, I do not think, that failure to render assistance when somebody has visited injury or death upon someone is one of the lowest things we can possibly imagine.

The ACT does not intend to lead the way by having too draconian a penalty. Nonetheless, it still has an obligation to send a message to every single driver out there on the road that, not only do they have a responsibility to not cause death and injury on the road but also they have a responsibility to the rest of us and to the person they have injured to stop and render assistance in some form.

Of course we would encourage people to undergo St John Ambulance first aid training. We would expect people who have medical training—either nurses or doctors—to be able to render much greater assistance than the average citizen. But we know that every single person can stop, flag a car down and see if they can go and get help.

We know that many people are carrying mobile phones in their cars—hopefully they are not using them while driving, They can pick that mobile phone up while they are stopped on the side of the road. By dialling 000, they can call an ambulance to the scene quickly, or they can call the police. That is not too big an ask, I do not think.

It should be an automatic response just to stop when you have injured someone, or even if you think you have, and say, "What have I done?"Stop thinking about what that person has just done and think about the implications of it. Pick up the mobile phone. Stop the car. Go and ask somebody else if they have a mobile phone. Tear off or send someone for help. That is all we ask. Failure to do that in my view walks away from the social responsibility of being a citizen in this town.

As I say, we do not wish to be draconian in our measures, but we do wish to be consistent with other jurisdictions. We want to send a message loudly, if we can, to the community that the community expects people to be responsible and to take responsibility for their actions. I commend this bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Pratt) adjourned to the next sitting.


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