Tuesday 08 June, 2021

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 26 May 2021.)

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA (Hartley—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services) (12:35): I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this bill. Too often, we see examples of hoon drivers playing with their own lives but also the lives of others on our roads. This bill sends a strong message to drivers who have no regard for public safety and choose to drive at extreme speeds on our roads that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

Extreme speed on our roads can be fatal and hoon drivers are putting not just themselves at risk. I cannot imagine the pain felt by the families and friends of people who have lost their lives or others who know people who have suffered loss on the road as a result of hoon driver behaviour. To think that people can be so reckless and put others at so much risk is quite frankly incomprehensible.

In 2020 alone, speed was a contributing factor in 38 per cent of all lives lost on South Australian roads. The five-year average between 2015-19 is 29 per cent. These are staggering figures and we simply cannot accept dangerous driving as being inevitable. We need to have strong laws in place that reflect community expectations and send a clear message to hoon drivers that their behaviour simply will not be tolerated.

The government has worked closely with SAPOL to develop this legislation, which categorises the dangerous act of extreme speeding as a criminal offence. The bill makes it an offence where the speed limit is 60 km/h or less to exceed the speed limit by 55 km/h or more, and where the speed limit is more than 60 km/h to exceed the speed limit by 80 km/h or more. The offence will attract serious penalties, including up to three years' imprisonment for a basic offence and a mandatory minimum licence disqualification of two years for a first offence or five years for subsequent offences, and up to five years' imprisonment for an aggravated offence and a mandatory minimum licence disqualification of five years.

Where a person is charged with this offence, police will be empowered to impose an immediate licence disqualification or suspension to ensure the person is barred from driving until finalisation of the charges. The person may appeal the police-issued licence disqualification or suspension on the basis that exceptional circumstances exist and the person does not pose a substantial risk to other members of the public.

The bill provides a higher penalty for offences committed in aggravated circumstances, including where serious harm or death was caused to another, the offence was committed in the course of attempting to escape police pursuit, the offender was driving a motor vehicle that was stolen or being driven without the consent of the owner, the offender was disqualified from driving and knew of the fact, the offender had a prescribed drug present in their oral fluid or a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams or more in 100 millilitres of blood, and the offender was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

These aggravating circumstances recognise how factors such as drugs and alcohol can increase the risk of serious harm and injury or loss of life when driving at extreme speeds. In addition, provisions will include forfeiture offences for the purposes of the Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007.

As part of this government's crackdown on hoon drivers, we have also changed the fees that apply for the release of vehicles and we are requiring the fee to be paid in full as another measure to deter bad behaviour and improve road safety. This bill also allows SAPOL to instantly remove the alleged offenders from our roads. The bill recognises how dangerous driving at extreme speeds is by creating a standalone offence for this reckless act.

We know that speed is a prevalent factor in serious injuries and fatalities on our roads, which is why we have taken the step to criminalise this behaviour under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act. This legislation brings the penalties for hoon driving in line with community expectations. As Minister for Police, I hear from members of the public frequently who are concerned about hoon drivers. To the people of South Australia: let me assure you that our government is listening.

This bill is a powerful measure to deal with this incredibly dangerous and reckless behaviour. It is another tool for SAPOL to deal with hoon drivers on our roads. Members may have seen the very powerful video released by SAPOL recently, just a couple of weeks ago, showing the devastating results of extreme speed. It is our emergency services volunteers and the men and women of SAPOL who unfortunately are left to pick up the pieces when there is a crash caused by extreme speed.

I would like to personally thank the police commissioner for his assistance in helping to bring this legislation to life, and I commend the Deputy Premier for her work on the bill. We are committed to providing our police with the tools and the resources they need to keep our community safe, and we will continue to investigate and implement new measures to support the work of SAPOL.

Since coming to government, the Marshall Liberal government has delivered over $170 million in extra funding to keep South Australia safe and strong. Of course, we have also delivered on yet another of our election commitments by implementing the Traffic Watch app component of the SAPOL app. This enables community members to report dangerous road use instantly to SAPOL, giving a greater chance for the offenders to be found.

Driving is a privilege that should be reserved only for those who do the right thing on the road. This bill delivers a clear message to dangerous road users that their behaviour has no place in our community, and I commend the bill to the house.