Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2020

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (11:41): I rise to speak on the Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2020, and there are only a few elements of this bill that are relevant to Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party so I will direct my contribution to those. Firstly, I would like to talk about the overarching approach to drink driving and how it compares to, in my opinion, the more lax approach we still take to drug driving. I welcome the increase in penalties for breaches of interlock devices. When I worked at Victoria Police drink driving and erratic driving were obviously something we dealt with extremely regularly. Interlock devices have been around for years, and there have been many reforms to their implementation, especially in the last three years or so. One of the biggest failings or loopholes of interlock devices, and it does not take anyone of any intelligence to know this, is that often drivers have their family or their mates breathe into the device. This happens because the driver at the time is over zero blood alcohol content so they get one of their friends to blow in. Frankly, it defies the purpose of interlock devices if the drunk driver is driving still. This bill takes the current maximum sentence for breaching an alcohol interlock condition from 30 penalty units, which is about $4835 and four months imprisonment, to 240 penalty units and two years imprisonment. This demonstrates that the government is taking drink driving very seriously, and I commend it for this. Further, through this bill Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party is happy to see that the government is getting serious about drivers of large vehicles having a zero per cent BAC also. Now drivers of trucks over 15 tonnes will need to be zero before they get behind the wheel. Previously it was capped at those driving trucks that were over 4.5 tonnes. I would like to reiterate that drug driving is, however, becoming all too prevalent in driving on our roads, as we have seen by truck drivers recently. In April this year we lost four uniform members because a man was allegedly under the influence of illicit drugs. Drugs seem to be everywhere when it comes to crime, and this is no different to road crime and trauma. Secondly, and as a segue, I would like to talk about the current approach to drug testing. I am a bit of a broken record on this one and probably will be until something changes. The number of VicPol personnel who are able to conduct preliminary oral fluid tests, or OFTs, and impairment testing really needs to be expanded if we are serious about targeting drug driving at all. There are a number of problems that currently exist within the Victorian drug testing regime, and I know that there are currently some round tables and various discussions happening with regard to reform in this space, but these are things that could be changed in a matter of days if the right funding and regulation was implemented. Some of these include using normal uniform members driving in vans, who do not have access to preliminary oral fluid tests. This is a big problem if a two-up car is driving and sees an erratic driver and they pull him or her over, because they cannot conduct the preliminary oral fluid test. This also means that if they call the highway patrol to come out and conduct the oral fluid test, the driver cannot be charged because the highway patrol car did not actually see them driving—so talk about a bit of a ridiculous loophole. On this, preliminary oral fluid tests are not used in court settings as they are not accurate enough. So even better than equipping all police cars with preliminary oral fluid tests is giving all Victorian police members oral fluid testing training in the academy. Unfortunately impairment testing has been phrased as a bit of a joke by some uniformed members, anecdotally. It is under-utilised, it is complicated and it has a high threshold. There are a number of steps that are difficult to follow. It can also only be done by highway patrol. In 2019 only 63 drivers were charged with impairment. Lastly, as I have said in this place a number of times—a bit of a broken record—repeat drug driving does not have the same penalties as repeat drink driving, which is somewhat bewildering. It is the same concept: you are driving under the influence, and you are doing it after being caught and warned or punished at least once or twice before. I quoted seven magistrates on one occasion in this place who were all in absolute favour of warranting jail time for repeat drug driving so offenders could get the help they need. I appreciate the government have undertaken 150 000 drug tests over 12 months, as they said they were going to do, which is great news. Unfortunately drug driving, though, is on the rise, and it is a worry. It may seem like I have gone a bit off topic. It was a great opportunity to commend the government on their increase in penalties for alcohol interlock device breaches, and we should be expanding this philosophy to drug driving as well. We will be supporting this bill, and I commend the bill to the house.


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