Dangerous driving bill

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (17:41): I rise, too, to speak on the dangerous driving bill and express some concerns about what is being proposed with or without amendment. Since the government has put forward this dangerous driving bill, I have been absolutely inundated with calls from a wide range of people in my electorate of Chaffey who are concerned with what this bill will do to impact on their lives and businesses. I think that it is more about the onus that it is going to put on people operating their businesses as they do currently.

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (17:41): I rise, too, to speak on the dangerous driving bill and express some concerns about what is being proposed with or without amendment. Since the government has put forward this dangerous driving bill, I have been absolutely inundated with calls from a wide range of people in my electorate of Chaffey who are concerned with what this bill will do to impact on their lives and businesses. I think that it is more about the onus that it is going to put on people operating their businesses as they do currently.

For motor sport enthusiasts, as the member for Bragg has just highlighted, some motor sport events will be exempt. There is concern in Chaffey, which I think is proudly passionate about motor sport, particularly for anything with a motor in it or anything to do with wheels, but it is a bit more diverse than just the wheels. I am a little unclear as to whether this dangerous driving bill will impact on river users because people have ownership of some of the water line in some cases. People have freehold. Will it impact on when we have our local world famous dinghy derby? Will those competitors be impacted on? I will touch on that a little bit later.

In the electorate of Chaffey, which is 16,500 square kilometres and incorporates a lot of farming country, river country and river flat, there are approximately 40,000 people there. Of that, there are about 3,000 food producing businesses. In those food producing businesses, the bill as I understand it will have an impact on those private farms. We also have quite a few motor sport parks and motor sport complexes that are part of the electorate and they, too, have gained recognition right around the nation. Again, will the introduction of this bill demonstrate a lack of understanding about the way in which free enterprise and farming communities live and work?

In one fell swoop Premier Weatherill has shown just how he seems to be out of touch with what regional and rural communities are about, and that entails owning a farm, owning wide open space land. I guess previously we had a right to use that land for the way we operate our farming, the way we operate our lifestyles, but the Liberal Party is always happy to consider measures that we could take to enhance road safety, but this particular piece of legislation as I see it goes far beyond what is reasonable and I will not be going down without raising my concerns.

The current dangerous driving legislation refers to driving occurring in a manner that is dangerous to the public which usually requires the act of dangerous driving to occur on a public road. So, if a person drives dangerously on a private property that does not expose any risk to a member of the public unless they are acting in a dangerous manner. It also means that victims of dangerous driving on a private property may not legally be considered a member of the public, and this could also operate to exclude liability on the grounds of dangerous driving in the case of an accident on a private property.

The bill widens the scope of dangerous driving offences by allowing it to include any person rather than just the public and I understand that police already have the power to investigate and act on incidents involving death or injury on private property, but this new legislation goes beyond the scope of what is fair and reasonable.

Through consultation with my community, I have identified a number of significant problems with the legislation: obviously farmers trying to run their businesses; the motorsport industry; families teaching and using vehicles to operate their business; and enforcement and implementation. I will start with farmers trying to run a business. Most here would understand that it has been part of farming history that farmers use vehicles for all types of reasons.

They also use vehicles for pleasure, for recreation, and for running their businesses in any which way they choose. They have already been burdened with the rising costs of running their businesses and the way they get around some of that cost burden is to use their vehicles with family members to engage in mustering or bringing in livestock, checking troughs or irrigation, or the mandatory running from one point to the next. It really is going to make life much harder for them.

Farmers in my electorate have raised a number of concerns with me; for example, what the bill means for registration of vehicles used solely for farming purposes. Many farmers have vehicles which will never leave the private property and which are only used for activities like carrying hay, mustering, as I have said, and transporting feed to animals. What will the provisions regarding the defecting of vehicles mean for those vehicles used only on private property?

A vehicle might be purpose-built to go out and feed livestock, or to go out and check water, or to spray weedicide, or to run wires to upgrade fencing, and sometimes those vehicles do not have a door, and sometimes they do not have indicators or lights. What does it mean for those sorts of vehicles? There is a wide range of issues that the farming population is looking at with caution and concern, and this bill is going to impact on their running the businesses that they have run for many years.

I have already mentioned that motorsport is something very dear to my heart, and very dear to many of my constituents in Chaffey. Obviously this bill is going to have an adverse impact on those

engaged in motorsport, but the current legislation regulating the motorsport industry under the South Australian Motor Sport Act, allows for the non-application of certain laws to areas declared by the minister for a motorsport event.

Current dangerous driving laws do not apply in relation to a vehicle or its driver while the vehicle is being driven in a motorsport event within the declared area and during the declared period of an event. We must always remember the issue of consent which, I think, is particularly important when we are dealing with motorsports. Participants are always aware of the risk involved when competing in motor sports, and this allows them to make a conscious and informed choice to do those activities.

The bill would extend to apply to those people who have actively given consent to taking part in motor sport. Imposing criminal liability on someone where the deceased has provided informed consent will have severe consequences for individuals, communities and the motorsport industry at large. There are businesses, including in my electorate of Chaffey, that rely on the motorsport industry as a form of income.

For any 4X4 enthusiasts in the chamber, the Loveday 4X4 Adventure Park is a prime example. Obviously the operator of the park is extremely concerned that this legislation would, quite frankly, destroy his livelihood. The park has all sorts of facets around motorsport—4X4 adventuring, theme tracks. It has a track that I have driven over, with 120 mounts after one another, and it really is quite an experience. Around 20,000 people visit the park every year. The owner likes to consider it a safe 4X4 park.

Other examples in the electorate include the speedways at both Renmark and Waikerie. The Riverland Junior Motocross Club has been ingrained into my family life for many years both though myself and my son, who competes on a regular basis. What sort of impact will it have there?

We have enduros and sporting car clubs that have raised their own concerns about the bill and the potential drastic ramifications that this could have on the industry. A lot of families have set up their own tracks—their own motorbike tracks, their own car tracks, and their own enduro tracks. What sort of impact is it going to have on them? Is it going to take away their right to enjoy some pastimes and pleasure time on their own property?

There are indirect consequences of this bill for those interested in and engaged in activities. They have to accept the danger that comes with where these tracks are located. The benefit of having designated motorsport areas like the Loveday Adventure Park is that participants can enjoy motorsport in a safe and secure area. Imposing criminal liability where consent is given in a regulated environment like a motorsport park will push people to go to more dangerous, unregulated areas, where the risks of motorsport are even higher.

If you restrict any motorsport pastime—as I do, I lived on my orchard for many years—and close parks and lock up areas, people will explore further, they will cut fences, and go further afield to explore other places where they can ride their motorbikes or vehicles. Remember, too, that motorsport events are also an important tourist attraction in regional areas. The Waikerie Enduro has been a national event. Where does the bill leave that event? People come from all over the nation to race their off-road trucks and buggies. It has been a signature event in the electorate of Chaffey for many, many years.

In terms of young people learning to drive, many people living and working in regional areas teach their children, their friends, how to drive, but they teach them how to drive in orchards, on farms, normally on tracks, and it gives them the opportunity to learn how to handle a vehicle. In a lot of those instances, it gives them the opportunity to handle a vehicle that they would not necessarily be able to handle on a road. This bill really is taking away, or putting at risk, the opportunities that young people in regions have.

In terms of enforcement and the issues with implementation, the bill also has a number of practical problems. How on earth is the government expected to be able to police and enforce this? Does the government honestly expect police to be out there roaming the regions, entering every private property they drive past to check whether there is any dangerous driving going on? Is the government going to be prepared to put extra police resources out there?

How is it going to police watchdogging for people who are out potentially driving dangerously on their properties? What sort of resources are going to have to be put in place to deal with it? Again, to me, it sounds like it is going to be a massive imposition on SAPOL and the regional police forces. What kind of burden are we looking at, and how much more is this going to cost the taxpayer?

Will this detract from the police operation in other areas? How will the government be prioritising the development of police, and will police be taken out of areas where there is real crime going on and where law enforcement is needed, so that they can potentially chase a farmer or an operator out there spotlighting or teaching their kids to drive or a group that are out there testing their vehicle or motorbike on a track that has been purposely built?

There are many unanswered questions, and that will impose significant burdens on the implementation phase of this legislation. In conclusion, to me, I see this as a bandaid response that disproportionately affects farmers and particularly those living and working in the regions. The government has clearly failed to conduct any reasonable or in-depth consultation with rural and regional communities; otherwise they would have realised how absurd this legislation really is.

Obviously, the Liberal Party welcomes any attempt to improve and enhance safety on our roads. We are always willing to listen to the government as to how it can improve safety standards, but a bill that goes too far in targeting people going about their private business on their private property is something that we will not stand for.

Of course, the Liberal Party holds the utmost respect for individuals' freedom, and this bill is an attempt to remove the freedom from those living and working in rural and regional areas. I will look at this bill further, because I feel that this is a serious burden on particularly people in regional and rural areas. I seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (18:24): I rise just to conclude my contribution to the Statutes Amendment (Dangerous Driving) Bill. Getting back on track—and it has been some time—I do have some concerns with some pastimes, such as racing, that go on, particularly on the River Murray. That will incorporate waterski racing, when we have boats that are racing up and down the river, but they have to comply with the river corridor. In that river corridor, during competing, in a high river, for instance, that could be deemed as that water level being on private property, because we have a 21-foot corridor from pool level to private property. We have had instances where we have seen high rivers, rivers that are being purged, and all of a sudden those rivers will rise significantly. There are concerns there with how that river corridor is determined.

Also, there is another form of, I guess, a dangerous sport up in the Riverland, and that is known as creek racing. Creek racing is done in a small vessel, in a small aluminium boat, and it participates on the river, but it also participates in creeks. Again, some of that will be on crown land and some of that will be on private property. I guess there are some concerns there. Looking through the bill, there are some provisions there for vessels, but I do not see any provision there for the interpretation of what is crown land, what is private land and how that is determined. Obviously, the river is a moving feast with levels that rise and fall with pool weir manipulation.

I guess I have concerns as to does this bill leave things to interpretation when analysing whether you are on private property or crown land through one mechanism or another. Also, there has been some concern with any creek racing if there is marine and harbors on the river and they see someone who is acting in an unlawful way or a matter of danger to the public. How will they interpret a marine and harbours boat chasing another boat up the river or chasing a boat out of the river into a creek? Again, the interpretation is, are they on private property, are they on crown land, are they in the main channel? I think they will be questions that perhaps we will ask during committee, so I will leave my contribution there.

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