Road Traffic (Drug Testing) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 16 May 2018.)

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General) (10:31): I rise to speak on the bill introduced by the member and shadow minister for police, emergency services and correctional services in respect of an amendment to the Road Traffic Act. Members may not be aware that this was a matter under consideration in the prior government's legislation, which was proposed under the Statutes Amendment (Drink and Drug Driving) Bill 2017. This aspect of the bill, which is replicated in the bill before us, did not pass the parliament. Essentially, therefore, it did not introduce this initiative to allow for police searches of vehicles where a driver tests positive to a drug test. Members ought be aware that the bill otherwise passed in relation to amendments therein.

The matter I will raise for the benefit of the member and the parliament generally is that, since coming into office, we have met with the police commissioner in respect of a number of matters, including reforms that he may wish to see the new government progress and allow for some reforms. Specifically, the initiative in the member's bill was not one of them. However, we have discussed with him how he would like to see some amendments to the way drug testing is done on the roadside, remembering that the drug and alcohol testing on the roadside is part of an initiative for road safety, not for criminal investigation or prosecution.

Therefore, to a large degree, the whole debate on whether people should be pulled over randomly and tested is designed to ensure that, where possible, someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol is immediately taken off the road. That was the purpose of it. It was in that context that that wave of legislation passed the parliament with the support of the public, who could see the danger of leaving these people intoxicated or under the influence on the roads in a car that could become a lethal weapon.

Nevertheless, the police commissioner has raised with us how we might have another look at the testing in this regard, including the process of sending it to forensics or, alternatively, the driver being able to elect to seek further analysis and otherwise consider adopting an on-the-spot measure. So we are looking at those matters with the police commissioner because obviously he represents the agency that is principally responsible for the implementation of the obligations under the Road Traffic Act.

Another matter that has come to our attention since coming to office is that the 25 km/h speed limit that has been imposed when anyone passes an emergency vehicle has been identified as not actually being a speed limit, and for that purpose there has been some confusion as to whether a driver can be charged for an offence or expiation. This matter has had recent media attention, so we are working with the legislative services in my department to consider that matter as well.

Other areas that need to be sorted out in the Road Traffic Act are under consideration. The main purpose, therefore, for not progressing the private member's bill is to reduce the time spent in parliament considering this initiative, which, as I say, has not been one on the list requested by the police commissioner. Nevertheless, we need to fix up a number of other matters that, regrettably, appear not to have been attended to, together with initiatives that are new from the police commissioner that we are proposing.

Bearing in mind that we also have extensive use of the services that Forensic Science SA provide, we are also keen to make sure we streamline things to ensure we minimise that cost and put taxpayers' well-earned dollars to better and more immediate use. I acknowledge the member's contribution in presenting this bill; nevertheless, it will not have our support at this stage, but I indicate that we are considering that matter, together with other matters, further and will come back to the house as soon as practicable.