SPEAKING ON A BILL | TRANSPORT LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (ROAD SAFETY, RAIL AND OTHER MATTERS) BILL 2017

Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan) — I also rise to speak on the Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety, Rail and Other Matters) Bill 2017. The bill talks about reviewing the current demerit point system in relation to the road toll we have been experiencing in Victoria. Even though I think we are doing a reasonable job, unfortunately far too many people still manage to exceed the blood alcohol limit. Recent figures show that about 3000 full licence holders were caught drink-driving with limits between .05 and .069.

We have seen the campaigns run by the Transport Accident Commission and Minister Donnellan over the last few years that have tried to improve road safety in Victoria. Hopefully the bill will go some way towards improving our safety record. If we can reduce road fatalities by just one, I think it is important that we try to do that. The target is to have zero injuries and zero fatalities on our roads. It is a good target. Unfortunately we are not able to achieve that overnight, but I think any improvement on the current road toll is welcome.

The bill makes amendments to public transport legislation to reform the Victorian rail access regime to reduce red tape faced by the rail safety operators, and that is a welcome exercise. There has been a fair bit of consultation with the industry in relation to these changes, and there is quite a lot of support for that. More importantly the changes to the penalties that legislation will impose on offenders are very welcome.

The main aim of this bill is to make sure that we get close to zero injuries and a zero road toll on Victorian roads. As I said, there is nothing controversial in this bill. I think the bill has received a lot of support from Victoria Police and from the general community, and I think these measures will go a long way to addressing that.

There are tougher drink-driving penalties. Increasing the penalty is very important, as is strengthening the interlock system and laws. The bill will impose a minimum of six months of alcohol interlock conditions on all drink-driving offenders when they are relicensed, which is a new provision. I think it is important that we remind people that, even though they might have served their sentence, they still have to go through a probationary period of six months as a reminder. Hopefully they will not reoffend. A licence ban combined with an alcohol interlock is very effective in reducing drink-driving. These measures reflect the risks associated with low-range drink-driving and brings it into line with other drink-driving offences.

I mentioned earlier that each year about 3000 people are caught driving with a blood alcohol level between .05 and .069. I think it is worthwhile capturing that cohort and getting the definition right to make sure we further improve safety on our roads.

With those comments, I commend the bill to the house. I hope these measures will further improve our road safety in Victoria and that we might come to a day where we are able to achieve zero fatalities on our roads. I know it is a long shot, but I think it is worthwhile having a go at working towards that target.

14 December 2017