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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3980 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

imposed by the Assembly without any provision being put in place for the courts to have the discretion to determine that it is the just and sensible thing socially for a particular penalty to be applied. That is my concern about the civil liberties issue relating to being able to seize a person's vehicle.

I would have thought that the behaviour of the driver of the vehicle would be the problem, not the car itself, which is just the means of transport. If the driver is breaking the law, then it would seem to be more consistent to take away their licence to drive, as occurs under drink-driving laws, than to take away their car. For a number of reasons, I am really concerned about this matter and I do ask Mr Smyth to look at the information I have just put before this place about the relationship between speed and casualty crashes and the penalties applied there compared with the penalties that this place has imposed on the offence of drink-driving, which is a very serious issue for road trauma.

I do not believe that Mr Rugendyke's legislation, if passed, will in any way give credibility to this Assembly in terms of the consistent approach or the lack of a consistent approach that is taken to these issues of behaviour and road management. They are in quite a mess now and could become worse if this provision is passed.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (12.25): Mr Speaker, I rise to express the same concerns as have been expressed by my colleague Mr Hargreaves and by Ms Tucker. I do think that the approach taken in this legislation really is out of kilter with the approach that we have taken in relation to the punishment of traffic offenders and traffic offences. I think that the hierarchy of penalties or the responses that this legislation proposes are simply out of kilter. Not only are they out of kilter, but also I think that some of the responses to this newfound offence of burnouts or wheel spinning simply are inappropriate.

We are reclassifying this offence of racing, this offence of wheel spinning or this offence of burnouts. In the existing legislation it probably comes under dangerous driving. We are reclassifying an existing offence. This behaviour is an offence under the existing legislation. We are reclassifying an existing offence for the sake of appearances, so that we look tough, so that we look as though we are actually doing something, but all we are doing is renaming an existing offence and applying to it a colourful and draconian penalty.

We are taking what is an existing offence of dangerous driving and giving it a new name - burnouts or wheel spinning - and we are applying this regime of punishment, namely, the prospect of seizure followed by the prospect of the vehicle being impounded and forfeited and eventually, in the context of perhaps more than one offence, the vehicle simply being sold. As Ms Tucker has said in some detail, this is not a response that we apply to the whole range of offences in the motor traffic legislation that each of us in this place would accept absolutely are more serious, more dangerous and more deserving of that level of ultimate sanction that we have available to us as a parliament.

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