Page 848 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 24 February 2009

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For the record, I have only got about three points missing, actually; I do not have anywhere near the 12. Of course, there are some people who are on the roads a lot. It is particularly the case in those times when double demerit points apply. People on their P plates can get dangerously close to losing their licence just for a little speed over the limit and a little lack of attention. The penalties are appropriate; nobody is arguing about that. But what we need to do is to make sure, of course, that if they have not paid a parking fine or something like that, they are likely to have their licence suspended.

The average-man-in-the-street test was that if we tell them, we do not take away the responsibility to act responsibly on the roads. We also take away the possibility—this is the significant part—that people will inadvertently commit a crime for which they must appear before a magistrate. I am referring to driving whilst not licensed. That carries a significant penalty and, as we all know, ignorance is no excuse. But it behoves us, of course, to make sure that that ignorance does not work to the detriment of the ordinary and fairly honest driver.

The second part of the legislation that we have before us had its genesis again in the application of the red light camera process. I am referring to the people who thought, “If I go through the amber light, if my front wheels are over the line and my back wheels are not over the line, am I going to get pinged when I go through the red light?” So we were trying to say that it really does not matter. If the light is red and you go through it, you have broken the law. But the people who wished to apply a pedantic approach were quite correct in saying that the law, as it was written, was confusing. We have no problem in saying, “Okay, if the law in the way we had written it had a certain intention, but it was confusing, it behoves us to remove that confusion,” and I think that was fair.

However, the background is still that people who go through a red light do it knowingly. You do not go through a red light accidentally. You can go through an amber light accidentally, but if you have a look at the delay between when the amber light goes on and when it changes to red, you know full well. There are those of us who occasionally in our lives have been in a line of traffic and who think, “Oh, my heavens,” when you have in fact gone through the red light and you have known full well you have done it and you have got this horrible sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. That is because people who have done that have known that they have broken the law.

But when we come to saying to people, “You have broken the law and you need to take the penalty for that,” but they say, “But the way you have written the law lets me off—it is a technicality; bad luck,” we would like to think that these people do not actually commit that offence again later on, but I cannot be guaranteed of that. What we have done is tighten up the law so that it is absolutely crystal clear for those people who wish to have a look at the Australian road rules and the application of red light camera legislation in the ACT.

This is a case of clearing up the legislation. On behalf of the government, I express my appreciation to the opposition and to the Greens for their support for this

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