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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3399 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

The scrutiny of Bills committee raised several valid points about this Bill. For instance, the trial of a motor vehicle appears to be very broad. What happens when a motor mechanic has to test a vehicle after repairs? Depending on the test conducted, they may be in contravention of the law. What happens then? What happens, Mr Speaker, if you are tearing along the Monaro Highway doing 95 kilometres an hour. There is a 100-kilometre maximum speed limit. There are lines marked on the road for you to check your speed. You are actually trialling the speed of your vehicle, Mr Speaker. Therefore, if there is a boy in blue sitting on the side of the road and he does you, you can lose your vehicle if it is the second time you have been silly enough to do it.

Mr Speaker, I understand what Mr Rugendyke is trying to achieve. Indeed, we realistically support what he is trying to do. However, the Labor Party feels that this Bill represents harsher penalties and not a deterrent. The Labor Party will not be able to support the Bill.

MR BERRY (5.15): Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to this Bill. Nobody likes to hear somebody making excess noise outside their house, or anywhere else for that matter, or see great volumes of smoke and damage to the roads as a result of the habits of those with powerful, and some not so powerful, motor cars on our public roads. Nobody likes to see police being frustrated in their attempts to deal with these sorts of activities. One expects that the police, as any other human being, would support moves to make their life easier, but we as legislators have to balance this against the rights of the individual and how inch by inch we might undermine civil liberties if we were to go down this path. My colleague referred to this in his contribution on the matter.

I would like to talk about some of the issues that have been drafted into the legislation. There are many questions unanswered about this Bill. I see that the Government intends that this Bill should go off to a committee, and I think that is an appropriate course.

Let me give you a few examples. This one should tickle your fancy. This is the interpretation in the Bill of burnout:

`burnout', in relation to a motor vehicle, means operate the vehicle in such a manner as to cause the vehicle to undergo sustained loss of traction by the driving wheel of the vehicle; ...

That could apply if you were bogged. I am not quite sure whether that definition has been properly thought through because that is exactly what happens when you are bogged. I do not think anybody would make smoke and flames when they were bogged, so I rather worry about that definition. The Bill says motorists are not to race or to attempt speed records and so on. It is pretty clear that the police have wide powers to deal with motorists that behave in this way in any event in relation to the roads. Drivers are not allowed to race with another vehicle. Well, certainly, if they were speeding, under the Motor Traffic Act the police would be able to deal with them. If they were driving in a manner dangerous they could be dealt with by the police. If they were driving negligently they could be handled by the police in the usual way. So I do not see any particular need to legislate again.

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