Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 18 November 2010) . . Page.. 5721 ..
also noted that a number of their concerns were addressed by amendments put forward by the Greens.
At no stage during a long and involved process did the government raise a single concern relating to any of the technical amendments offered in this bill. It is clear that, despite the government’s claims that the bill was rushed and broken, the amendments that this bill presents would have had to be applied to the government bill as it was presented in its exposure draft form. Somehow I doubt that, had we passed the government bill and we were currently debating operationally necessary amendments, the government would be criticising itself for presenting rushed and broken legislation.
The government, at any time during the eight-month process of the original roadside drug testing bill, could have engaged with the other two parties, sought briefings from the police and talked to Mr Hanson and me to explain what amendments were necessary to make this legislation work on the ground. It is the nature of minority government that the crossbench and the opposition will, from time to time, pass legislation without government support. However, even when the government does not support the legislation or it is the Assembly’s intention to pass the legislation, the government should take the necessary steps for implementation.
The amendments that have been made in relation to random roadside drug testing are all operational and could only have come forward after consultation with the police—something only the government can do, as neither the crossbench nor the opposition are able to directly contact the police. Through a briefing arranged by the government, it was noted that the amendments have been brought forward by the police and related to the operation of roadside drug testing on the ground. We were also informed that they were, indeed, technical and relatively minor amendments.
We recognise the need to support the amendments that clarify police powers to detain drivers on the grounds that, based upon current technology, it takes some time to conduct a random roadside drug test. Creating offences for avoiding drug tests or tampering with testing equipment are consistent with measures required for random roadside breath tests. We also recognise the need to implement defences against the offence of refusing to provide an oral fluid sample on the grounds of medical incapability.
The ACT Greens acknowledge that it needs to be clarified that offences relating to random roadside drug testing are strict liability offences, consistent with the Criminal Code and other traffic offences. We further recognise the clarification given to the requirements for evidentiary certificates based upon laboratory analysis of oral fluid, as well as aligning the provisions dealing with evidence for insurance purposes with those for other traffic offences.
A provision to allow police to immediately direct a person whose ability to drive is affected by drugs not to drive for up to 12 hours is consistent with the approach taken with random roadside breath testing and is a reasonable limitation on the right to drive where an individual would clearly be dangerous behind the wheel of a vehicle.
The ACT Greens will be supporting these minor and technical amendments to the random roadside drug testing legislation passed earlier this year.