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Josh BULL (Sunbury) (15:15): I am really pleased to have the opportunity this afternoon to contribute to debate on this important bill, the Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2023. In a previous member’s contribution, he was pumping up another member of his team. He was looking forward to their contribution –
Wayne Farnham: So am I now.
Josh BULL: So am I. I am going to have to stay in here for that one. I did particularly enjoy parts of the contribution – the acknowledgement, I think, of some of the state government’s investments. This government has invested in significant services that go to transport for our state, moving people to where they need to go each and every day – to work, to education and to see family and friends, making sure that we are investing in transport both for the needs of today and the needs of our future. This bill is, as has been mentioned, an important bill that is before the house. It is an omnibus bill that contains a number of changes – significant and important amendments – which I will go to shortly.
Before I do, I do just want to touch on what I think is a most ambitious and exciting suite of transport projects to get Victorians to where they need to go in a more efficient and more reliable way, whether that be those significant investments around the Metro Tunnel, due to open in 2025; the West Gate Tunnel; the North East Link; getting on and moving 110 dangerous and congested level crossings by 2030; or upgrading key arterial roads particularly in my community as well as in communities right across the north, in the west and in parts of the growing south-east which were formerly – Acting Speaker Edbrooke, as you know – country roads, which due to population growth receive significant demand. More and more people are using those roads each and every day. Ensuring that we are working with Major Road Projects Victoria to upgrade those key arterial roads is of course something that this government is immensely proud of.
The list goes on, whether it be new stations; the extension of train lines – indeed new trains; different modes of transport; or the Suburban Rail Loop, a transformative project that will link all of our metropolitan train lines across the state and create along the way thousands and thousands of jobs. This is an ambitious, bold agenda, but what we needed to do when we came to government was to get on and deliver those projects which, because of four years of neglect, had simply not been delivered. They were left on the shelf. Nothing was up and running. There were no big investments to be able to get on and deliver these projects. Now, fast forward to nine years later, this is the work that been done by members of this government and the incredibly hardworking teams – thousands of people – that are contributing to these projects each and every day and delivering some outstanding results. This bill is about delivering a more modern and in many ways a more responsive transport network. It is about ensuring a balance between fairness and safety and embedding many of these values within the amendments that are contained in the legislation.
The bill enables, as has been mentioned previously, research trials to support evidence-based road safety policies, particularly in relation to medicinal cannabis trials. It establishes a legislative framework for local governments to manage issues in relation to vehicle-sharing schemes, such as e-scooters. It implements important bus driver reforms. It implements changes to commercial passenger vehicle laws in relation to information sharing. It enables Safe Transport Victoria to designate waters for the purposes of the national standard for commercial vessels, and it clarifies the persons exempt from paying the transport accident charge. The TAC are still fully covered for traffic accidents, which is an incredibly important reform and amendment. It reforms the process for determining the disclosure and the use of information in relation to the public transport network and supports the efficient administration and regulation of the transport sector through a number of other improvements to the operation of transport laws.
We know that the provisions contained within the legislation before the house today make amendments to a suite of acts, those being the Road Safety Act 1986, the Road Management Act 2004, the Transport Accident Act 1986, the Bus Safety Act 2009, the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017, the Marine (Domestic Commercial Vessel National Law Application) Act 2013, the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983 and the Transport Integration Act 2010. What I want to do in the time I have left is just touch on a couple of these. As I mentioned, they can broadly be defined across the nine categories or parts, if you like, of the bill, but I do just want to touch on a couple of the amendments that are contained within the bill.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the key reforms in this bill enables the minister to designate road safety research trials. These trials could be for the purpose of determining to what degree it is safe for someone to drive a vehicle after consuming drugs or alcohol or while they are affected by fatigue. It could also be for the purpose of informing the development of methods used by police to assess whether someone is impaired by drugs, alcohol or fatigue. This amendment is both important and exciting in many ways because it enables the government to run world-leading trials, making sure that we are always at the forefront of trials, making sure that we are working with experts in the field to ensure that our transport network is the very best it can be, but importantly ensuring that the balance between safety and surety – not just those big investments, those large-scale projects that I spoke about earlier – is part of the government’s agenda. Due to population growth and due to improving technology, making sure that we are at the forefront of research trials is incredibly important.
We know from looking at other jurisdictions across the world and working with companies that invest in new technologies that technology is advancing at a really significant and rapid rate. Making sure that we are working closely with those in the field that do this really important work not only enables us to build that world-class public transport system but most importantly protects and saves lives. Acting Speaker Edbrooke, through your journey you have worked in emergency services and you understand the importance of road safety, how dynamic the transport network can be, how things can change very quickly when it comes to an accident and how many of these incidents occur when people least expect them to occur. Making sure that we are able to strike that balance between what is safe and what is acceptable on our roads and our public transport network is incredibly important.
There is a significant amount of work that has been done in the medicinal cannabis space, making sure that we are providing the very best options for those that are experiencing challenges and relying on medicinal cannabis to treat their various conditions. This needs to be supported so that those individuals can get the treatment they need but also not be penalised by our authorities for being on the road. That is why I think one of the key amendments within this legislation, as has been mentioned, is incredibly important. The minister will have the authority, the power, to designate and work with those agencies and make sure that we are performing the very best research to get the very best results.
We are a government that is about delivering the big projects and the small projects, about ensuring that all Victorians, no matter where you live, have the strongest, the most dynamic, world-leading network of trains and trams and buses and roads and shared-user paths – all of the things that link in, that build our public transport system, that enable people to get to friends and family, to work, to study, to school, to all of the places that we need to go. Ensuring that this network is the very best that it can be is not just about big capital investments. They are incredibly important, but it is also about reviewing our legislation, about making it modern and dynamic and fit for purpose. That is why this legislation before the house today is so important. There are many amendments within the bill. I did not have the opportunity to touch on all of them, but it is a significant bill, and I commend it to the house.