Page 3269 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 18 August 2009

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Road Transport (Mass, Dimensions and Loading) Bill 2009

Debate resumed.

MR COE (Ginninderra) (5.19): I rise to speak on the Road Transport (Mass, Dimensions and Loading) Bill 2009. The bill seeks to implement the national model, the compliance and enforcement package, from the National Road Transport Commission. It is an important step forward in incorporating the ACT’s heavy vehicle laws with those of other states and territories. The ACT is currently the missing link between those states that have implemented it so far: Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. I note also that Western Australia has some legislation in draft form.

This bill provides the chain of responsibility rules for mass, dimensions and loading limits. The bill will also provide for a reasonable-steps exception to offences under the act. This scheme applies to heavy vehicles and heavy combinations with a gross vehicle mass of 4.5 tonnes or more. Penalties under the new scheme will increase to $1,000, up from $500. Authorised officers will be able to issue warnings, improvement notices, directions to stop and rectify or to move and rectify.

The bill defines the reliability of consigners, packers, loaders, operators, drivers and consignees. As the Liberal Party and the National Party have done in other states, the Liberal Party in the ACT supports this legislation but will propose some amendments, which I will discuss later.

The chain of responsibility will ensure that liability for an offence under the heavy vehicle road law will be applied to the appropriate person who may commit an offence. The reasonable-steps exception is an important component of the scheme. It means that for anyone at any point in the chain—be it a packer or driver—who takes reasonable steps to comply with the road law or if there were no steps that a person could have been expected to take to comply, an offence under that act will not apply to them.

The ACT draft varies in some ways to fit in with our human rights scheme. Changes include changing absolute liability to strict liability, a reasonable steps exception instead of defence, full derivative use immunity, time limits and ACT search provisions.

My first amendment that I will move today changes the logbook to a work diary. This is to ensure that the legislation is in line with the national scheme, which replaced the logbook nationally with work diary some years ago. Amendment 1 is to subclause 10(1)(a), and amendment 2 is to clause 19, example 4.

The third amendment is a minor amendment to clause 137(3) to better describe the circumstances in which an authorisation may be conditional. Whilst the explanatory statement did explain this, the bill did not. The amendment is consistent with the other provisions in the act.

The fifth amendment is a short amendment to clarify clause 200(3) to require the officer or person who is warning a person to ensure that they believe on reasonable

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