ROAD SAFETY AMENDMENT (HOON DRIVING AND OTHER MATTERS) BILL 2011 – Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Posted on 27. Jun, 2011 in Speeches

Mr LIM (Clayton) — I am pleased to make a contribution to the debate on the Road Safety Amendment (Hoon Driving and Other Matters) Bill 2011. I am as pleased to make a contribution to this debate as I was to contribute to the debate on the hoon driving legislation which passed through the Parliament several years ago. I recall well that it was a Labor government that sought to tackle this problem head on. As previous speakers have pointed out, hoons are a scourge on our society, and their behaviour is the essence of antisocial behaviour in our community. At one level there is the image of a young buck with his baseball cap on back to front revving his early model Commodore, perhaps, and waking the neighbourhood while he does burnouts and doughnuts in local streets. Considered not only antisocial but also a fool, the hoon leaves valuable rubber stuck to the bitumen.
However, much more serious is the potential for hoons to kill and maim themselves, their passengers and tragically third parties, be they other motorists or pedestrians who happen to be innocently passing by. Lygon Street is an example of a place where hoons have killed themselves and others, and we have also seen such examples reported in the press. As far as I am concerned there is not much difference between racing a car down Lygon Street and firing a bullet down the same street and hoping for the best. If hoons are going to use their cars in a manner such that they become weapons, then that is to be considered dangerous and criminal behaviour and the drivers deserve to have their cars taken away, just as we expect police to relieve other offenders of their weapons.
Holding a drivers licence and being allowed one’s motor vehicle on the road should not be seen as a right but rather as a privilege with responsibilities attached to it not to endanger the safety of others. I am proud that it was the Bracks and Brumby Labor governments which introduced the anti hoon provisions in legislation in 2006. We extended the scheme with the Road Legislation Further Amendment Act 2007, which applies the vehicle impoundment scheme to motorists who run lights at level crossings. With the Road Safety Amendment (Hoon Driving) Act 2010 the offences leading to vehicle impoundment were extended to unlicensed driving, drink driving and drug driving, and these are to apply from 1 July this year.
The anti hoon legislation is clearly working. By last year more than 10 000 cars had been impounded, so the police are clearly enforcing the provisions. The majority of drivers having vehicles impounded are unfortunately first time offenders. Hopefully this would suggest that most offenders learn their lesson on the first offence and that the legislation is deterring repeat offences. The mechanism for the vehicle impoundment scheme is that the grounds are spelt out in the principal act, the Road Safety Act 1986 in part 6A, which deals with the impoundment, immobilisation and forfeiture of motor vehicles. This bill amends both the principal act and the Road Safety Amendment (Hoon Driving) Act 2010 by inserting several measures, in particular increasing the period of impoundment of a motor vehicle for a first impoundment from 48 hours to 30 days.
When we introduced the original anti hoon law it was considered controversial in some quarters. Of course there were likely to be refinements based on experience, such as Labor’s 2007 and 2010 bills. On that basis I have no difficult with the proposal before the house. I say this with one caveat: during this term the Liberal government will find that it will not be enough just to appear to be tough on offenders. Complex social issues and problems require complex responses, including resources, education and addressing the underlying causes — and I will give a good example at the end of my contribution.
For instance, I welcomed the Road Legislation Further Amendment Act 2007 as a way of increasing safety at the Clayton Road railway crossing in my electorate, because it made running through flashing lights or boom gates at railway level crossings an impoundable offence. This very busy railway line carries both metropolitan trains for the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines and V/Line trains. Given the interplay of the Monash Freeway and the Princess Highway as well as other major roads, it carries a lot of road vehicles, including heavy transports. However, extending the period of impoundment for a first offence, including running level crossings, from 48 hours to 30 days will not entirely prevent incidents. Sadly, as long as we have level crossings there will be fatalities. The only guaranteed solution is grade separation, and I hope the government takes that to heart.
This legislation is the easy part — that is, extending the period of impoundment of motor vehicles for a first offence or, in other words, getting tough with offenders. What the Liberal Party is going to find more difficult is resourcing a permanent solution and allocating resources based on merit and priority rather than on politics. One only needs to think of Brighton to realise that the Liberal Party has some way to go in tackling our most dangerous railway crossings. It will take more than impounding a hoon’s car for 30 days to make our railway crossings safe.
In conclusion, I cite the good example of a community working together with councils. I refer to the Southern Ethnic Advisory and Advocacy Council, which is working in conjunction with the cities of Monash and Kingston to coordinate a driving program for disadvantaged kids from the Sudanese community. I will be taking part in the launch of that program on the weekend. There will be 26 young learner drivers from that community matched with 30 volunteer instructors who will contribute something like 120 hours of driving. It is a fantastic program that should be commended and held up as an example. This is the practical education, support, encouragement and empowerment that drivers need to learn what their responsibilities are.

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