Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3397 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
unchanged, apart from some minor consequential changes. Indeed, the Government's amendments will have a similar effect as when the Bill was tabled in the Assembly except that permit approval for burnouts and street racing is granted by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles rather than the Chief Police Officer. Such provisions, to some extent, already exist in the Motor Traffic Act.
In addition, the Government's amendments remove the provisions in Mr Rugendyke's Bill that allow for the Chief Police Officer to approve road events. The Government's amendments allow the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to consider applications to take part in the activities of burnouts, testing the speeds of vehicles, and racing vehicles.
Mr Deputy Speaker, as I have indicated, there are a number of issues that may benefit from further scrutiny, and consideration by the Standing Committee on Urban Services can only add to the Bill's effectiveness. Indeed, since the Bill was tabled it has come to my attention that, for instance, Newcastle has addressed this problem by setting up an area where people with the desire to do burnouts may go and do that. Were the committee to consider the Bill, the two sets of amendments, and seek further information on how we can cope with this problem, perhaps we could come up with an answer that keeps the streets safe or in fact makes the street safer, as is the intent of Mr Rugendyke's Bill, and he is to be congratulated for that. At the same time it might allow those who have the urge, and I guess the money, to be involved in burnouts and street racing to indulge in that sport as they see fit.
By referring this Bill to a committee, Mr Deputy Speaker, we can ensure that it is considered appropriately. There are some stiff penalties in this Bill. It enters some new areas that the ACT does not currently act in. When we talk about some of the penalties and the impounding of vehicles, this is a very serious matter.
It is the Government's intention to support this Bill to the in-principle stage. We believe there is merit in what Mr Rugendyke has brought to the attention of the Assembly. We believe, however, that it does need some finetuning. I think Labor intends trying to knock it off, which would be most unfortunate. I think the best thing we could do is send it to the Urban Services Committee, as we have done previously with Bills like the water Bill. After a round table we were able to come back with quite a firm position after much consultation and community input. Perhaps this would allow us even to strengthen the intent of what Mr Rugendyke has proposed here. Perhaps we could give those who would like to indulge in the art of burning out some scope for participating in that and at the same time ensure that we have streets that are as safe as we can make them.
MR HARGREAVES (5.10): Mr Speaker, first, I should stress that the ALP does not condone or encourage drag racing or burnouts in Canberra's streets. It is loutish behaviour that the community should not tolerate. We do not want to see the streets of Canberra turned into Mount Panorama; nor do we want to see accidents as a result of this behaviour.
At present the Act states that it is illegal for two motor vehicles to race one another on a public street. This carries a negligent driving offence, which is only a $147 fine. I do not dispute that the current penalties need to be reviewed and possibly strengthened;