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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (23 March) . . Page.. 700 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

But when people stand around here and debate the merits of 250-cc, 350-cc or 500-cc engines and they have never ridden on the back of a motorcycle, one really has to ask whether they are in any way competent to decide, for example, that an 18-year-old and a 35-year-old who are learning to ride a motorcycle should be subjected to the same constraints.

The general proposition is that teenagers and people in their early twenties have a high casualty rate riding motorcycles. I think that it is probably true statistically that they have a higher rate of accident, a higher death rate and a higher injury rate than people who learn to ride motorcycles later in life. So why are we even discussing an arbitrary engine size or power-to-weight ratio which we will apply equally to a 17-year-old just coming out of school and learning to ride a motorcycle for the first time and a 35-year-old who is going through the same process? I submit that the 35-year-old, having driven motor vehicles for many years, would probably have a far more mature approach to the use of the road and the need to share the road with others and to be cautious and the like.

So, whether we are talking about an engine capacity or a power-to-weight ratio, we are talking about setting some very arbitrary limits that will be of value for some people in the community and will be of no value at all for others because, I repeat, a 17- or 18-year-old who starts to ride a motorcycle for the first time and acquires a certain type of 250-cc engine motorcycle is immediately at risk as it can go just as fast as a motorcycle with an engine of 1,100-cc or 1,200-cc. If it is speed that kills, and it usually is, where is the merit in putting any limit on it at all? One would only be safe if one said, "Motorcycles are illegal and you won't ride them at all".

I do worry about the sense of the debate. Of the two options that were available in the Government's Bill, I prefer the option being sustained by Mr Rugendyke, because at least if you look at the power-to-weight ratio you can eliminate a motorcycle, with whatever engine capacity, which is deliberately built as a lightweight machine and will therefore respond to power more readily than a heavily built machine. I think there is more merit in the notion that a power-to-weight ratio has more validity, if you like, in determining what sort of motorcycle a person should ride than the straight engine size. It has been put forward by some - and I have noticed that everybody has ignored it - that the rules for 18- to early 20-year-old youngsters ought to be different from those for the older people. Nobody has picked up on that point. So, of the options available, I support that being put forward by Mr Rugendyke and I will vote accordingly.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (4.06): Mr Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Government to respond to some of the points that Mr Kaine made. I think that the compromise put up by Mr Rugendyke is very sensible; but I must say, as somebody who has ridden motorbikes of 50-cc, 175-cc, 250-cc and upwards to 1,000-cc, bikes that are incredibly powerful, that I have a different opinion from Mr Kaine. There is a significant difference in the way the bike performs and the way you feel on the bike in what the bike is about. I accept that there is a compromise here. With that goes the attitude that young people in particular have to what they are trying to achieve when they get on a bike. To what extent is it transport and to what extent is it a part of the buzz of being able to accelerate and go fast?

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