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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3692 ..

MR HARGREAVES (9.20): We have heard this argument before. One of the arguments put forward by Mr Rugendyke was that when the road rage legislation went down there was an inadvertent effect. It was not an inadvertent effect. The minister said to me prior to the vote, "Do you realise what you are doing? You are going to affect the burnout legislation." I said, "Yes, we do realise what we are doing." And I made mention of it in the speech, I believe, although I could be wrong on that.

The Labor Party does not condone burnouts. The Labor Party would be quite happy to see the full weight of the law as it exists applied. Burnouts are driving in a manner dangerous. Police have the power to book people for driving in a manner dangerous. They have the power to book people for reckless driving, careless driving and driving over the speed limit. They have sufficient powers already.

We do not mind if this offence is elevated to an offence in its own right. But the laws of natural justice have to apply. Essentially, the judiciary should have the right to impound property. They have to give an order to that effect. Police are informants to the court. They are not judge, jury and executioner.

The government wants to bring forward legislation addressing on-the-spot fines. That is fine. Let us have a look at it. The government want to tell the police, "Go hard on it." That is fine. Let us do it. Let us all back it. There is not a problem with that. We have a problem with the fact that within 10 days a policeman, if he believes on reasonable grounds that you have done a burnout, can come to your house and knock your car off. That is not on.

What is inconsistent is that Mr Rugendyke is saying that we made a mistake when we did the road rage bill, but he has accepted the will of the Assembly on the road rage bill. He might not like it. Neither would the Attorney-General like it. But the will of the Assembly was accepted. Otherwise Mr Rugendyke would have brought on another bill about that. He has not.

The road rage bill required that the police officer had to see something happen. It is okay that we just let that one through. But now Mr Rugendyke wants to reinstate the provision that a police officer need only believe something has happened. Within 10 days he can knock your car off. On top of that, the provisions indemnify the police. If they impound your vehicle and somebody gets into the police yard and trashes it, the police are not liable for that. That is my understanding of the provisions.

We oppose this bill on the fundamental principle that the imposition of a penalty should be done by the judiciary, especially when it comes to the withdrawal of property. You might recall that we were not happy about the legislation knocking off people's stereos. That was stupid as well.

On-the-spot fines are quite different. If you are caught speeding, you get an on-the-spot fine. Nobody has any problem with that. You are caught in the act. But here we are talking about somebody believing something has happened. That is just not on. If the police have a good enough case, they can put it before a magistrate, and the magistrate can impound the vehicle. We are very happy about magistrates impounding vehicles. That is where the penalty should rest.

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