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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 4509 ..


Debate resumed from 21 November, on motion by Mr De Domenico:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR WHITECROSS (Leader of the Opposition) (5.25): Mr Speaker, this Bill is the legislation to implement the Government's budget initiative for a road rescue fee. Members will recall that this was the subject of a great deal of debate through the Estimates Committee process, and the Government have indicated that they will be accepting the recommendations of the Estimates Committee with respect to the road rescue fee. This Bill is only the enabling legislation. The actual implementation of the rescue fee depends on subordinate legislation. We will be supporting this legislation and will be looking with interest and great attention to the subordinate legislation to ensure that the Government implements the Estimates Committee's wishes.

The only other thing that I would say is that this is essentially a revenue measure. It is a way of raising funds to help provide some of the services of the Government. It is a flat-rate fee, and in that sense it is probably not the most progressive way of raising revenue for the Government. The road rescue fee and the policy that surrounds it in relation to ambulances throw up some questions about the cost of ambulance cover. While we have moved things forward in relation to ambulance cover for people who are involved in motor accidents, it still leaves a category, albeit a diminishing category, of circumstances in which people who may need an ambulance could find themselves in the position of not having any insurance to cover the cost of that ambulance. I believe that on balance the Bill is a good one. The Opposition will be supporting it and looking with interest at the regulations in due course.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (5.28): I welcome the support of the Opposition and, I assume, that of the crossbenches for this important Bill. Yesterday there was a very serious motor vehicle accident in the ACT in which one person died. Unfortunately, there have been a number of such accidents in the ACT in recent days. I think that it behoves us at this point in time to look at how we can improve the profile of our road rescue function in the Territory to ensure that that function adequately meets the changing demands of a community which is getting larger and more diverse, which has more visitors than it once had and whose roads in some areas are getting old. I hope that this road rescue levy will provide the means of doing that.

Mr Berry: There are more holes in them.

MR HUMPHRIES: Holes develop under any government, Mr Berry. Unfortunately, I know of no hole that gets smaller because, for example, a Labor government is in place. Perhaps a few black holes are created in those circumstances, but we - - -

Mr Berry: No; you would notice a difference straightaway. There would be more courtesy on the roads.

Mr Whitecross: The sun would shine more brightly.

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