Comments on Statutes Amendment (Vehicles Inspections and South Eastern Freeway Offences) Bill.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I rise to place on the record some comments in relation to this bill, which has come about in part from the outcomes of the Coroner's report into the death of Mr James William Venning, which took place on the South Eastern Freeway several years ago.
Anybody who is familiar with this piece of road would understand the dynamic of it. It is potentially a very dangerous piece of road in that there is a continuous descent of some seven kilometres, from Crafers to Glen Osmond. I understand it is quite safe for heavy vehicles if they are roadworthy and travelling in low gears. However, if they are not, then, as we have seen over the years, there have been some tragic consequences of very serious accidents with heavy vehicles losing control and causing death either of the driver themselves or of others.
This particular piece of legislation has been developed in consultation with SAPOL, SARTA, TWU and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. The bill is designed to target drivers and owners who may put road users at risk by not maintaining heavy vehicles. The South Eastern Freeway has a very high volume of some 50,000 vehicles a day, with 10 per cent of those being trucks or buses, so it is essential that all measures are in place to make it safe for all road users.
There are two specific offences that have been created for drivers of heavy vehicles, the first one, based on Australian Road Rule 108, is failing to descend the downward track in low gear. The second is to exceed the set speed limit by 10 km/h or more. Both carry expiation fees, six demerit points and escalating periods of licence disqualification or suspension. SAPOL is able to issue an immediate loss of licence for safety camera detected offences. The Motor Vehicles Act will be amended to enable the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to apply for a period of licence disqualification or suspension on expiation.
The bill also targets heavy vehicle owners who fail to nominate an offending driver. For second or subsequent offences, there is no fine; instead, there is an additional six demerit points or disqualification for no less than three years in addition to a maximum imprisonment of two years. Previous offences for speed or gears on the freeway will be used to determine penalties. Obviously, that is to encourage body corporates to identify the drivers of speeding vehicles.
There will also be compliance frameworks for inspections with increased penalties from $5,000 to $10,000. I note that there was a pilot heavy vehicle inspection scheme that commenced on 1 January 2017, which required all heavy vehicles older than three years and with a gross vehicle or aggregated trailer mass of 4.5 tonnes or more to be inspected on a change of ownership. As of May, some 600 vehicles had been inspected, with the government's second reading explanation stating that there was a frightening 50 per cent failure rate, and I would reiterate that that is a very disturbing figure indeed.
I think it also highlights the benefits of the Liberal Party's proposed Globe Link policy because it will take a number of heavy vehicles off that route, and that in itself is going to make that very busy road much safer for all other road users. With those comments, I commend this bill to the house.