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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3879 ..

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (5.08): Mr Kaine started by quite eloquently explaining what this legislation was about and where it is coming from. He is entitled to do that. This is basically his legislation from 1997, where the Government and Mr Osborne warned that the issues Magistrate Somers raised about this time last year would actually occur. The Liberal Party and Mr Osborne were right. They said that the watering down of the then legislation by Mr Moore, the Labor Party and the Greens would lead to a situation where, if you asked, you got a special licence. Members might recall Magistrate Somes last December saying that, basically, if somebody asks for a special licence they get one. "I'm obliged to give it to them". In voicing that concern, what we heard from Magistrate Somes is concern about the laxity of the law concerning very serious activity with very serious outcomes.

It is disappointing to hear Mr Stanhope say that this is not the place to make these reforms. This legislation is about road reform, fair and square. This is about all types of road reform. Earlier today we offered Mr Rugendyke the opportunity to include his "burnout" Bill. We have not been able to do that. But this is an opportunity for the Assembly as a whole to put our stamp on road reform to ensure that all road users at all times can feel safe on the road. As Mr Stefaniak has so finely put it, there are provisions that will still allow people in exceptional circumstances to apply for a special licence.

Why do we call it a special licence? It is a special licence because it is something that you should get in exceptional circumstances. It is not something you should get in a lucky dip. You should not break the law and expect to be handed a special licence because you have a story to tell. The crimes to which these provisions apply are some of the most serious crimes on the road - culpable driving, negligent driving causing death, negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm, furious, reckless or dangerous driving, menacing driving, repeat offences of prescribed concentrations of alcohol, DUI, refusing a breath test and refusing a blood test. When looking at that, you have to understand that this is about serious crimes that are committed on our roads. It does not apply to first offences or minor offences.

As Mr Stefaniak has pointed out, even in that situation there is still the ability to ask for a licence. Under section 556A, you can make those representations. That is where the judiciary, with their understanding and application of law, exercise their judgement in relation to exceptional circumstances, unlike now where anybody who asks the magistrate for a special licence is almost obliged to be given one. As a society, we put so much emphasis on and time and effort into educating people to be responsible for their actions on the road. It is ridiculous to then say, even if you do make a mistake, even if something goes wrong, even if you cause an accident, you can apply for a special licence.

Why do we water down people's lives? We hear from the other side that there might be an exceptional circumstance where the family is dependent on having a licence. You should consider that before you drink and drive. You should consider that before you speed, before you cause grievous bodily harm or an offence that causes death. You should consider that before you turn on the ignition in your motor vehicle, because the person you affect does not get a chance to apply for a special life. The person you affect does not get to go to court and apply for a special disability dispensation that relieves

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