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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3877 ..

MR OSBORNE (5.00): I will speak generally to the motion, as most members have. What I think is motivating the majority of members in this place, including Mr Kaine, Mr Rugendyke, members of the Liberal Party and me, is the desire to save lives. It is a desire to send a clear message to people who commit serious offences on the road, the repeat drink drivers, that if they do it they will lose their licence.

At 5.00 pm the debate was interrupted in accordance with standing order 34; the motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MR OSBORNE: I think it is the desire of those in this place who intend to support this measure to try to reduce the road toll, to save some lives and to cut down on injuries. When I tabled my Bill in September of this year, I quoted some figures which I would encourage members to have a look at. It was clear to me when I was drafting the legislation and looking at this issue that we needed to send a clearer message. The figures have not got better; in fact, they have got worse in the last few years. We as a legislature had to set guidelines. I had no problem in sending guidelines to the judiciary. It should be a last option, but it is certainly something that we as an Assembly should not shy away from.

As I said, I think members who intend to support this measure are doing it for a very simple reason; that is, they want to save lives. I believe it will do that. The message that this piece of legislation will send in relation to drink-driving is that if you drink and drive there is a very real chance that you will lose your licence. At the moment, that is not the message that is being sent. I have seen ads in the paper recently from legal firms advertising for special licences. "Do you need a special licence? Give me a call". Clearly the water has got muddied. I would like to reiterate that my motivation for this, and I am sure Mr Kaine's and Mr Rugendyke's, is to try to save some lives. So I will be voting against Mr Moore's and Mr Hargreaves' amendments.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (5.03): Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to speak again. Mr Smyth offered me the use of his officials because I wanted to clarify a couple of points. I refer to the drink-driving matters because that is where most citizens will be affected. Currently we have graduated fines and penalties for various types of PCA offences from low range through to high range - for instance, in New South Wales. In the ACT a first offender is someone who goes to court for a first offence, and if they commit another offence within five years they are classed as a second offender. However, if they come back after six or seven years, that five-year period still applies. I assume that is a flow-over from the old offences, where if you were a second offender within five years you had your licence automatically cancelled.

In this new legislation we have four levels of blood alcohol concentration. For someone who is a first offender, a minimum disqualification is one month and the normal default is three months. For level two, the minimum disqualification is two months and six months for the normal default. For level three, the minimum disqualification is three months and 12 months for the normal default. For level four, the highest level, the minimum disqualification is six months and three years for the normal default disqualification.

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