Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3404 ..
MR RUGENDYKE (5.36), in reply: Mr Speaker, I believe it is imperative that we deal with this Bill in its entirety today. I feel that we have little to gain by delaying a resolution until next year. I urge members to give long and hard consideration to the situation of their residents, particularly in north and inner Canberra. I am referring to residents who have grown to dread the holiday period over the last 10 years or so because police, quite frankly, do not have complete ability to stop hoons causing disturbances in the streets.
I would be fairly close to the mark if I said that every member in this chamber today would have records in their files of community complaints about street hooligans, particularly around the time of the Summernats. We all know that the Summernats is just around the corner. For all the good that the Summernats does provide the city, there is no argument that there is an element of people that this event attracts who do the wrong thing, an element which disregards safety on our streets and has no consideration for residents.
These residents have suffered for long enough. It has been going on for at least a decade. We all know what the problems are. We see them raised annually. The community is crying out for something to be done. This is our opportunity to act and to put legislation in place which is going to help the long-suffering residents.
This is the chance for members of this place to put up their hands and make a difference, which is long overdue. If we do not make the move then rest assured the complaints and outrage will be cranking up again shortly. This is the chance to rectify that. Let us remember that the last car show that created major problems in the city was nowhere near as large as the Summernats. Police almost lost control on that weekend. What would happen if things did get out of hand like they have before and during the Summernats?
A lot of my anxiety stems from the changes to burnouts and street racing laws in New South Wales, laws which, I must say, were implemented by the Labor Government. If the New South Wales Labor Party can see fit to endorse such road safety measures, I do not understand why the ACT Labor Party should object to my Bill which, in fact, mirrors the New South Wales legislation. Further, Mr Speaker, because the ACT is not protected in this way, I fear that interstate drivers could well try to take advantage of this over the holiday period. They know they cannot get away with it in New South Wales. I fear they will try to make the most of our lenient laws and abuse our roads. We are leaving ourselves wide open if we do not enact legislation such as this.
You only have to go to Lonsdale Street in Braddon on any Friday night to see the carry-on, which is nothing but a sheer road safety hazard. The mix of cars, crowds and beer certainly is volatile. Only last Friday evening, Mr Speaker, the behaviour was at its worst. At the corner of Lonsdale Street and Girrahween Street cars were performing burnouts for extended periods and holding up traffic in the process at that intersection. This is not appropriate behaviour on our public streets. Our police are, in a lot of ways, powerless to act. So what do we do when or if a situation gets out of hand?
As I said earlier, I have fears about this holiday period. The laws in New South Wales are tough enough, but I fear that the temptation for interstate drivers to come here to test our softer laws will mean trouble for our community.