Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 May 2011) . . Page.. 1682 ..
I was interested to learn that statistically it is unregistered vehicles and unlicensed drivers that are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents, particularly serious accidents. In fact, according to the explanatory statement to this bill, one-third of fatal motor vehicle accidents in the ACT last year involved either an unlicensed driver or an unregistered motor vehicle.
Enforcement of these provisions is also important to give efficacy to vehicle emissions standards, minimal as these are. As a brief aside on the issue of vehicle emissions, members may be interested to know that in March this year the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries released the national average carbon emissions figures. They reported a reduction of 2.7 per cent. This means Australia has made a small reduction in the average CO2 emissions of new cars. This is promising, but nowhere near enough. Even with our recent reduction, the average output of CO2 from Australian vehicles is 212.6 grams per kilometre. As a comparison, the European Union has set a target of 130 grams per kilometre for car makers to average across their models by 2012. The Australian government should be mandating stricter emissions targets for the new car industry in Australia to speed up our reductions. I would request and urge that the ACT government push this issue with federal counterparts wherever possible.
I will briefly discuss the amendments proposed in the bill today. The Greens support the change that will allow people whose licences are suspended to make an election of good behaviour at any time during the suspension period. In the past this could only be done before the suspension commenced, which seemed unnecessarily rigid.
The legislation makes a number of technical amendments to ensure that existing sanctions can be enforced against interstate fine defaulters. This is, of course, a sensible amendment to ensure people do not escape legitimate penalties for offences in the ACT just because they are a driver from out of state.
The bill will require that the road transport authority returns suspended licences to drivers as soon as practicable. This is an appropriate amendment. The return of a suspended licence should not be dependent on the person applying to have it restored. The licence belongs to that person and, when a suspension ends, that right should be automatically restored and not be dependent on some further process.
Probably the most notable change in this suite of amendments is the clarification of the police power to seize false, fraudulent, expired or suspended numberplates and associated registration documents from vehicles. Previously, an officer was not able to enter a vehicle in order to remove the registration sticker. They will now be permitted to do this. As the explanatory statement points out, this is a necessary power to ensure that the legislation can be enforced properly. The power is also framed appropriately. It merely allows the officer to remove the registration document and not to search or intrude in the vehicle in any other way. This is an example of a power that is framed to be consistent with the intent of the law. The Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) Legislation Bill, contains a search power that I think is framed too broadly, and I will be proposing an amendment to that.