Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 May 2011) . . Page.. 1683 ..
There are a variety of other amendments that will improve the implementation of road and transport laws and processes, and the Greens are in agreement with these. For example, these amendments clarify that licence photos and signatures are able to be used for the purposes of the Dangerous Goods (Road Transport) Act 2009, an act that is currently not classified as road transport legislation but which, for all intents and purposes, is part of this category.
I will refer briefly to the comments made by the scrutiny of bills committee. The committee has again raised the issue of whether a due diligence defence should be available in relation to strict liability offences where a person could have taken reasonable steps to avoid conduct to which the strict liability offence applies. In this case, the committee refers to the strict liability offence of driving while one’s right to drive is suspended.
In the past we have accepted the government’s reasoning that a due diligence defence is appropriate in schemes such as occupational health and safety law, food handling and hygiene law and environmental and heritage law—where the conduct targeted by the offence directly concerns itself with the harm caused or risk of harm created. Again, I agree with the government’s reasoning that the driving while suspended offence is not one requiring a due diligence defence. It seems to me that this defence is relevant to scenarios concerning more complex behaviour, not where a specific action is either done or not done. That is the case here, where someone either drives while suspended or does not.
In conclusion, the Greens support this bill as a useful update to our road transport legislation.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Land and Property Services, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (11.36), in reply: I thank members for their support of this bill and the amendments proposed.
As Mr Coe and Ms Bresnan have spelt out, there are a number of quite minor, in some respects, machinery amendments. Some of them are quite important and significant. Some of them do address quite obvious blank spots or omissions within existing legislation. It is a feature always of the legislative process. Mr Coe touched on this, and I too am from time to time surprised at gaps that appear. There is always the self-evident question as to why perhaps the gap was not acknowledged. But things do change—our views, our attitude. It is not uncommon in any reform process that these sorts of amendments are deemed to be necessary as we change our approach, our methodologies and our attitude to certain issues which we regulate.
These are, in the main, not at all significant or controversial; nevertheless they are important amendments to an important piece of legislation which really is all about the use of our roads and road safety. There are not many more important issues for governments or communities than keeping our communities safe. These amendments are designed to achieve that.