Statutes Amendment (Licence Disqualification) Bill

I thank members for their contributions, particularly the member for Heysen. The opposition raised a matter as an expression of concern, followed by an indication that they will support the bill. Nevertheless, the concern raised by the member was, 'Why now, 2½ years after a new government?'—I wish it was 2½ years; I think we are two years and three months, which has been a generational change of government in this state—because this had previously been part of an eight-tranche reform that was presented by the previous government.

The Chief Magistrate of the Magistrates Court, Judge Hribal, had been seeking this reform for a number of years, which overlaps with the previous government to date. In short, the answer is that, although there are other areas of reform that have been picked up, and some advanced and some continuing in the previous bill, this aspect that is the subject of this bill is one that is exclusively within the domain of a request by the chief judge. While these other matters are being looked at—and I will indicate what they are shortly—this was one that was easily severable and one that we could advance.

That is precisely why the government of the day have said, 'Look, this is a machinery operation in relation to court efficiency. The Attorney-General has brought this to our attention, along with the Minister for Transport, and we can easily address it.' Sometimes I come to the parliament, as newly a member of the government, and the opposition complains that we have just taken a little piece to advance, and why do we not wait until we get it all ready and do all the reform? Now they are complaining because we have taken a piece off, which we think is easily severable and which we can present, and that is precisely what we are doing.

Judge Hribal has raised this with me as Attorney-General and, although it was within a package of previous transport reforms of the member for Lee, who was the minister for transport during the introduction of the previous composite bill, as I said, this was a matter that could easily be excised.

The road traffic law and regulations, which was introduced by the member for Lee as a composite bill back on 15 November 2017, was largely to cover reforms, including dealing with the procedure for expiation of offences detected by safety cameras. The administrative burden of having declarations was also a concern, and there was a process to bring matters online. I would have to say that this government has been very active in making sure that we provide services online.

There was a significant penalty for the nomination of statement having false and misleading information in it in creating an offence. I remind the member that we recently passed legislation in this house which allows for offences relating to online information. It was largely to accommodate the court's advance of the ECMS program to enable online lodgement and a portal access. Documents being lodged electronically has meant that we have had to recreate a specific offence for that. In fact, only recently, I think in the last week, I wrote to the Chief Justice and other heads of jurisdiction that that law had passed and was now to be operational.

The second was to make sure that companies could not just shield unsafe drivers who worked for them by not disclosing their name when they got a penalty for a road traffic offence. I think the boss used to pay $300 and there would be no disclosure of who was driving. It was higher than the usual rate, but it was designed to be able to process matters and get a fine processed, without the employer presumably having to go around, search all his truck drivers or whomever might have produced the offence and be able to identify them. Obviously, in some companies where there are a very significant number of employees or people on different shifts or people who share vehicles—there are lots of examples—this is sensible law reform, and in fact we have already done it. That is the second.

The third relates to expiation of notice, the first and second offences, in relation to being unregistered and uninsured. I am not sure what has happened with that, but I will certainly follow it up with the Minister for Transport. In relation to the immediate loss of licence and the consequence in relation to a number of those aspects, we are dealing with that now, and it is important reform. A seventh area of the bill relates to light vehicles that are illegally parked on clearways. I do not know the answer as to the progress of that, but I am happy to make an inquiry.

The eighth initiative, which was proposed by the previous government in this bill, was to make changes to the Motor Vehicles Act to ensure that all licence holders gain the requisite driving experience at each licensing level. I know we have had lots of different changes in relation to provisional and unrestricted drivers' licences. I do not know whether we still have a heavy vehicle licence. I think we still have motorcycle licences that are different. There is different, graduated licensing. We can make some inquiries as to the advance of that, but there seems to be hardly a session of the parliament where we are not making some changes to licences, both in standards and suspension of licences. That is a matter we will certainly have to follow up.

I make this point: back in November 2017, I think the previous government had a different agenda of the importance of priority. It was all about electoral boundaries. The member for Lee, who was the minister for transport, comes in with his comprehensive bill, says this was important reform to make it faster, fairer and whatever their other slogan was at the time, and then does nothing more about advancing it. They were in government; they could have actually dealt with this issue, but they did not.

They set the priorities, and I do not take any view on any of these other reforms. On the face of it they seemed sensible, and some things we have advanced and some things are under consideration. However, it is up to the government of the day to prioritise what they progress in the parliament. Whilst the member for Lee introduced this piece of legislation, apparently long-sought—including by Judge Hribal, in relation to the aspects of which she was seeking relief for her magistrates in the assessment of periods of disqualification or suspension of licence—the priority of the government of the day was electoral reform.

What happened in that last week? We spent all of Thursday with the attorney-general and various other players, including the now Leader of the Opposition in the other place, as he was at that time, rushing around to prioritise what was important for them. That was to remove provisions under legislation relating to electoral boundaries, in particular section 83. That was their priority: get rid of the fairness clause, have all these meetings with the Greens about how that was going to progress, throw it in on that last day when other important legislation was left swinging in the dust. That is what actually happened.

So, please, when members come into the house and decide that this government has taken up the responsibility of important reform—some of which is still being considered, as I understand it, but which we are happy to follow up—we will action areas of priority. This is one which could have been done, even by the attorney-general, as a separate bill if he wanted to, back in 2017. We all know what the priorities of the previous government were, and it was not this. So spare me the crocodile tears about the failure to advance something when the situation is patently different. I have a very long memory. I think I am a very forgiving person but I never forget.

As to the substance of the bill, that has been clearly identified, with an indication from the opposition that they support it. As I said, I thank the member for Heysen for his assessment of that as well, and the importance of us advancing this legislation. I commend the bill.

Bill read a second time.