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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (23 March) . . Page.. 702 ..

Mr Osborne: Speaking to the point of order, Mr Speaker: Can you tell me how to spell "ozone layer"? I am thinking of the damage that the big motorcycles are going to do to it.

MR SPEAKER: I uphold the point of order.

MS TUCKER: The only area where I have a problem is with the proposal to restrict the size of motorbikes that learner motorcycle riders and those riders with provisional licences can ride. Obviously, Mr Speaker, I am agreeing with most of the men in this place on this issue. The Motorcycle Riders Association and the Motor Trades Association have raised a number of concerns with this provision regarding the requirement that the motorbikes must be less than 250-cc capacity. These associations believe that the effectiveness of this restriction in reducing motorcycle accidents has never been proven, that excessive power is more the problem rather than just the size of the engine, that larger riders are disadvantaged, and that the engine capacity limit discourages long-term ownership and good maintenance of these bikes. I understand that other States are moving towards a learner approved motorcycle scheme, rather than imposing the engine capacity restriction. This means that only the power limit provision needs to be introduced, rather than including the capacity restriction. I already know about the amendments that will be put up. I am supporting Mr Rugendyke's amendments to Mr Hargreaves' amendments because that would mean that the result would be that we would have the power-to-weight ratio instead of the number of cubic centimetres as the determinant, which seems sensible.

Mr Kaine was saying that he thought that it was going to be more relevant for young people, but I do not think that it is just about attitude; it is also about competence. I know a woman who started riding a bike at the age of 40 and who had an accident quite early on, but it was not the result of her attitude; it was the result of her ability to manage the bike, which was very powerful. Its power-to-weight ratio probably was quite high. So, it is about competence as well as attitude. As it is a very dangerous form of transport, even though it has some environmental benefits, we need to look at the safety issues.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (4.13), in reply: Mr Speaker, as one suitably qualified to speak to this Bill, having ridden a motorcycle, I just wonder whether we are introducing prequalification to Assembly votes now so that, if you have not, you cannot, which would be a very sad day. Mr Speaker, the 260-millilitre limit of its own would not stop motorcycle accidents - I do not think anybody is saying that - but as part of a strategy which involves a lot more education and awareness, as well as the power-to-weight ratio, it would assist. I thank all members for their support at least for the power-to-weight ratio staying in the Bill.

It is important to know that a study in 1997, which is the most recent I can find, by the Monash University accident research centre for the Federal Office of Road Safety found that, if you were riding a bike over 750-cc, there appeared to be an increase in your crash risk. At the same time, if you were riding a bike under 250-cc it seemed to reduce your risk. On that alone, I think that it is worth keeping this part of the Bill in place for novice drivers.

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