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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (23 March) . . Page.. 699 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

was attempting to do. However, although disappointed that we are not able to achieve what the Government wants, I hope that what Mr Rugendyke is proposing will at least go some way towards making motorcycle riding a safer pastime for those learning.

MR RUGENDYKE (3.57): Mr Speaker, I foreshadow that I have amendments to Mr Hargreaves' amendments which, I have no doubt, we will speak about later.

Mr Speaker, I do applaud the aim of this Bill, which is to protect novice motorcycle riders. However, I do not believe that introducing measures to restrict engine capacity will assist in this area. I concede that there has been some consultation with motorcycle users. However, it is clear to me that a 250-cc motorcycle can be just as dangerous as a machine with a much larger engine capacity. Mr Speaker, I am also able to draw on my experience from my days in the police force, where I have seen the results of fatal motorcycle accidents involving machines with small engine capacities. The fact is that a 250-cc motorcycle can accelerate to top speed just as quickly, or even more quickly, than motorcycles with larger engine capacities.

The danger for novice riders is in being able to jump on a motorbike which is so light but which can accelerate like a rocket. If the motorcycle has a larger engine capacity it should be a heavier machine to assist in the control of that motorcycle. Just because the engine capacity is restricted to 250-cc or less does not mean that the bike is any safer. The power-to-weight ratio measures that my amendments put back into the Bill may assist in a more practical sense. They help to ensure that we are allowing novice motorcycle riders to jump only onto bikes that are of a weight which will help them control the machines. That will send a message to novice riders that they cannot tweak their engines to power levels which are unsafe and beyond their skill level. The engine capacity restrictions are not practical measures. For this reason, I support the deletion of 260 millilitres from the Bill. But I do believe that the power-to-weight ratio can be a useful addition and certainly assist in saving lives.

MR KAINE (4.00): There are times in this place when I sit and listen to debates and I get the uneasy feeling that people have not the faintest idea of what they are talking about, and yet it does not stop them talking at great length. I suspect that this is one such case. I do not know that the present law is all that practical in terms of controlling the acquisition and use of motorcycles, but then I am not too sure that the law anywhere else in the world is either. The point is that motorcycles are inherently dangerous. It does not matter whether you are riding a motorcycle with only a 250-cc engine or one with a 1,200-cc engine, they are inherently dangerous. The argument about whether a learner driver should be allowed to ride something with a more powerful engine than 250-cc is a ridiculous argument because I think the statistics over the years would show that just as many people kill themselves on 250-cc engine motorcycles as kill themselves with motorcycles of other engine size ranges.

Motorcycles are inherently dangerous because, even at relatively low speeds, if you hit a rough patch of road unexpectedly you can lose control. If you hit a slick section of road, either because it is wet or because it has got oil or some other substance on it, it is very easy to lose control. I can speak with authority, because it happened to me many times when I was in my late teens and early twenties and I still have the scars from that.

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