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Legislative Assembly

27 November 2019
Second reading
Lisa Neville  (ALP)


Ms NEVILLE (Bellarine—Minister for Water, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (16:32:16): I move: That this bill be now read a second time. I ask that my second-reading speech be incorporated into Hansard. Incorporated speech as follows: The Road Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 gives effect to the Government’s commitment, as outlined in the Community Safety Statement, to address threats to community safety posed by dangerous drivers. In particular, the Bill broadens existing powers to immediately suspend licences to ensure those powers apply to dangerous drivers charged with excessive speeding offences or other serious offences including where a motor vehicle has been used as a weapon to cause death or injury. These changes support the rights of victims and the families of victims who have died or suffered serious harm to their physical and mental health as a result of dangerous drivers. They also align with community expectations that licence suspension should be an outcome of being charged with serious driving offences because there is a clear risk to public safety. These changes have been driven by the brave advocacy of two individuals in particular; Chloe Dickman, who was a victim of an horrific motor vehicle assault in July 2015 and who has campaigned for the rights of victims ever since, and Jeynelle Dean-Hayes and pay tribute to the memory of her son Tyler Dean, who was killed when he was struck by a vehicle in October 2017. Immediate licence suspension—excessive speeding offences The Road Safety Act 1986 currently provides for the immediate suspension of a person’s driver licence or learner permit for those charged with high level drink driving offences. Those laws will be broadened to enable immediate licence suspensions for drivers who are charged with excessive speeding offences, that is, 45 kilometres per hour or more above the speed limit or travelling at 145 kilometres per hour or more in a 110 kilometres per hour zone. Immediate licence suspensions applied for excessive speeding offences will only operate where the speeding is detected by Victoria Police intercept, that is mobile camera detection, that result in an on the spot infringement or a charge being issued by Victoria Police. They will not apply where the speeding is detected by the fixed camera network because there is no on the spot interaction with police in which the immediate licence suspension can be effected. The process for applying the immediate licence suspension for excessive speeding offences will remain consistent with the existing process for drink or drug driving. It is proposed that a police officer can give written notice of the immediate licence suspension following either a charge being filed or relevant traffic infringement notice is issued. Upon such notice, a person will then be required to surrender their licence and a suspension will apply for a 12-month period where a person has committed a 45 kilometres per hour over the speed limit offence, and a 6-month period where a person has travelled at over 145 kilometres, but less than 155 kilometres per hour, in a 110 kilometres per hour zone. These new powers therefore provide a strong and immediate mechanism to protect public safety. However, the Government recognises that they must be balanced with appropriate safeguards and protections. In particular, the Bill includes appeal rights enabling a person to appeal to the Magistrates’ Court where an immediate licence suspension has been applied on the existing ground of exceptional circumstances to cancel the suspension. Immediate licence suspension—motor vehicle used in offences resulting in injury or death Victoria Police will also now have powers to immediately suspend a person’s licence or learner permit in circumstances where a person uses a motor vehicle to commit a serious offence such as murder, attempted murder, or causing serious injury either intentionally or recklessly. The powers will apply similarly to drink driving and excessive speed offences but with some additional safeguards that recognise that the test for immediate suspension has a greater level of subjectivity involved. Significantly, only senior police officers—that is sergeant or above—may determine whether to immediately suspend a person’s driver licence. Further, a senior officer may only do so where they are reasonably satisfied that a person has been charged with a relevant offence and that the person used a motor vehicle in the commission of that offence, which resulted in death or injury to another person. Additionally, the appeal rights reflect this consideration and take account of the different circumstances senior police officers consider when imposing an immediate licence suspension. Where a person appeals to the Magistrates’ Court for the cancellation of the immediate suspension, the Court may only make such an order where it is satisfied that the person is not an unacceptable risk to road safety. Other safeguards proposed relating to appeals include a prohibition on cross examination regarding the substantive offence the person is charged with, and restrictions on the use of derivative evidence in inquiries and other proceedings related to the substantive offence. These safeguards recognise the purpose of the immediate licence suspension is designed to ensure public protection for all road safety users and the need to maintain the integrity of the criminal justice process. Amendments to the Sentencing Act The Bill also makes related amendments to the Sentencing Act 1991. First, the definition of 'serious motor vehicle offence’ in section 87P of that Act will be expanded to include the offences of murder and attempted murder. This amendment ensures that the most serious offences (including murder and attempted murder) are subject to the requisite sanctions available under the Sentencing Act. The Bill further amends the definition of 'serious motor vehicle offence’ to include additional offences arising out of the driving of a motor vehicle, while under the influence of alcohol or alcohol and a drug. These offences include causing serious injury either intentionally or recklessly, in circumstances of gross violence, conduct endangering life or persons, and kidnapping. This will mean that where the Court makes a finding of guilt for these offences, it must cancel the driver licence or learner permit of the offender and disqualify a person from obtaining a licence for a specified period of time. In applying this sanction, the Court must also consider any period of suspension served by the offender under Part 6B of the Road Safety Act 1986 regarding immediate licence suspension. The effect of these reforms will mean that where a serious motor vehicle offence is committed under the influence of alcohol or alcohol and a drug, mandatory licence sanctions will apply, including alcohol interlocks and behavioural change programs on relicensing. I commend the Bill to the house.