Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 5 May 2010) . . Page.. 1720 ..
outlined five principles which we think are going to be important to achieving best practice random drug testing legislation. Firstly, drug driving as a traffic offence. This offence should be based around our current drink-driving laws and established solely as a traffic offence with equivalent penalties to a low to moderate drink-driving offence.
The second principle we outlined was that a positive test not be used to justify further searches. We support the comments that are made in the government’s discussion paper that set out the need to specify permitted uses for evidence gathered under any RDT legislation. In order for any RDT legislation to be accurately described as a road safety measure, the use of evidence must be restricted to prosecutions for drug driving or drink-driving offences.
Thirdly, all technology should be fully considered. There has been quite some discussion about a $40 figure that has been quoted a number of times, but we believe that we should be looking at all possible technologies that can be used. We recognise that oral fluid analysis is the technology used in all Australian jurisdictions where random drug testing takes place, but we do not believe that this should prevent the ACT from examining other options, including trace particle detection.
Principle 4 was government responsibility for drug-driving education. I think we should note that there is a concern that research on drug driving has indicated a low level of understanding of the effects of drug use upon driving ability, particularly among drug users. Research conducted in Victoria showed that over 90 per cent of alcohol users understand that alcohol seriously impairs the ability to drive, but up to half of drug users do not believe that drug use negatively affects their ability to drive. This highlights the fact that education will be a very important part of it along with whatever legislation is implemented.
Principle 5 was that all drugs that can impair should be included. I do appreciate and understand, as Mr Hanson has outlined to us, that his legislation is constructed in a way which allows for regulation guidelines to enable the inclusion of other drugs in a scheme if the technology becomes available. I do think we have that flexibility there in the legislation we currently have and will agree to in principle today.
The ultimate goal of this bill is to reduce the incidence of drug driving, and the experience of both drink-driving campaigns and drug-driving campaigns in other states has demonstrated the importance of community engagement with the process, something that we feel the government approach offers.
I reiterate that the ACT Greens support drug-driving legislation, which is why we are agreeing to this bill in principle today. However, we believe it is important to ensure we get the most appropriate legislation. We support the basis of the legislation put forward by Mr Hanson but believe it is very important for the government’s consultation process to be allowed to proceed and to come to a conclusion to inform the legislation that is eventually implemented in the ACT.
MR HANSON (Molonglo) (10.45), in reply: I find it remarkable that the Chief Minister has deserted his post. If he took this issue seriously, he would still be down