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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 30 June 2010) . . Page.. 2876 ..


MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.46): I just want to make a few comments on behalf of the Greens. We are pleased to see the impending passage of this legislation. We think it is an important road safety initiative, and that has, right through the discussion, been our primary focus—to improve safety for people on Canberra’s roads, whether they are drivers or more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

We need our community to understand that drug driving is unsafe. I think that there is a sense amongst many people that they do not know that. They are not aware of the impediment that taking drugs can be for driving skills. Ms Bresnan touched on some of that evidence this morning when she talked about the research on THC from the Accident Research Centre at Monash University. They noted that, in relation to THC, the detriments associated with cannabis use include increased braking time, increased lateral deviation, increased number of cones hit, increased speed variability and impaired secondary task performance. She also spoke about the impacts of ecstasy and amphetamine. Those differences, those impairments in a driver’s capabilities, literally are or literally can be a matter of life and death, particularly for vulnerable road users—but, frankly, for anybody that is travelling around on our roads.

I note also from the government’s discussion paper, that they have highlighted the impact of drugs on driving ability. I quote from page 7 of that paper, where it says:

Alcohol continues to be the drug found most often in the bodies of fatally and non-fatally injured drivers, followed by cannabis, amphetamines and benzodiazepines, e.g. valium.

It goes on to say:

While the research into the impact of drugs on driving is a relatively new and rapidly expanding field there is increasing evidence to suggest that certain illicit drugs … impair driving ability and increase risk of collision.

That is the basis on which we have had to move forward here today. I must say I have struggled to understand the government’s position on this one, because I think, to his credit, the Chief Minister is a real advocate for road safety. I think his extensive comments on drink driving, on matters of speed, on looking at the model of zero deaths for the ACT and having that as an aspiration, show some worthy goals, and the Chief Minister’s clear personal commitment to that, I think, is a welcome thing.

I think the government’s shift on its drink-driving campaigns to the message around either drink or drive—it is not whether you can drink and drive but either drink or drive—has been an important evolution in community understanding. And it is in that context that I have struggled to understand the government’s position on this one—whether it is simply politics or whether it is something else. Frankly, at times it has felt like watching a pinball table, the way the government has bounced around on the position that it is taking, right through to the Chief Minister’s contribution on Triple 6 this morning, when he said:

On the basis of her investigations—


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