TRANSPORT LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (BETTER ROADS VICTORIA AND OTHER AMENDMENTS) BILL 2018
Mr PALLAS (Treasurer) (16:31:38) — I move: That this bill be now read a second time. I ask that my second-reading speech be incorporated into Hansard. Incorporated speech as follows: This Bill was introduced in August 2018, during the previous Parliament. The Bill passed the Legislative Assembly but was not debated in the Legislative Council before the Parliament was dissolved. Better Roads Victoria The Andrews Labor Government set out to deliver better and more targeted investment to address congestion and improve safety across the State. Part of Project 10,000 is the Government’s commitment to build “Better Roads for More Communities”. The commitments are: • “A minimum of $1 billion over eight years will be allocated to repair and upgrade roads in Melbourne’s outer suburban and interface communities • A minimum of $1 billion over eight years will be allocated to repair and upgrade roads and level crossings in rural and regional communities • Legislative changes will be made to lock-in a guaranteed proportion of funding for these communities in perpetuity • Victorian Labor will also confirm in legislation the compulsory payment of traffic camera and speeding fines into the Better Roads Victoria Trust Account.” These commitments recognise the important role for State Government to plan and deliver transport projects for the economic prosperity and safety of all Victorian communities. I am pleased to inform the Parliament that the Government’s ambitious eight year target to invest a total of $2 billion in Victoria’s outer suburban and regional roads has been met in just four years. A total of over $3 billion dollars has already been allocated to outer suburban and interface, and rural and regional communities in the first term of government. Rural and Regional communities For years we have been investing in roads to improve conditions and enhance safety for rural and regional motorists. The 2018-19 Victorian Budget alone delivers $433 million for regional road restoration, $261 million for road upgrades and $229 million for safety upgrades. The government has so far allocated over $1.1 billion to rural and regional communities. These investments in regional areas are fostering thriving regional economies that are creating jobs and providing for the future. Outer Suburban and Interface communities The population in Melbourne’s outer suburban areas is continuing to grow. This means there will be increasing demand on the road network. Without proper investment in roads—investment for now and for the long term—people in these communities will spend longer in traffic and will need to travel further to get to and from work. This is simply not an option. This Government recognises the importance of investing in outer suburban and interface roads to ensure that people can get to where they need, when they need. Since 2015, over $1.9 billion has been allocated to roads in these areas. Outer suburban and regional communities can rest assured this Government will continue to invest in improving safety and congestion on their roads. Guaranteed funding This Bill guarantees the allocation of a minimum of 33 per cent of Better Roads Victoria funding to rural and regional communities. This Bill guarantees the allocation of a minimum of 33 per cent of Better Roads Victoria funding to outer suburban and interface communities. The guaranteed minimum proportions will be set now for all future investments. This Government is committed to delivering a consistent and guaranteed level of road funding to growth areas and rural and regional communities for the years to come. The guaranteed funding will be supported by a compulsory payment of an amount equivalent to traffic camera and on-the-spot speeding fines revenue into the Better Roads Victoria Trust Account. Other road-related monies can still go into the account regardless of the source. This will ensure there is a minimum level of funding going into the account, while not preventing other sources of funding to be paid into the account. Administration of Alcohol Interlocks The Bill makes changes to the administration of alcohol interlock conditions to simplify the processes and move the majority of alcohol interlock offences into the VicRoads Alcohol Interlock Program. This is designed to take pressure off court resources and allow them to focus on other key areas, such as family violence and community safety. The Bill transfers responsibility from the courts to VicRoads for the removal of all alcohol interlock conditions for drink-driving offenders once they have met mandatory criteria to demonstrate that they have separated drinking from driving. VicRoads already manages alcohol interlock removals for some offences, and uses the same mandatory criteria that the courts use, so the necessary systems are already in place. It is expected that this will remove over 5,000 matters each year from the Magistrates’ Court. The Bill also transfers the responsibility of re-licensing offenders and imposing alcohol interlock conditions for most drink-driving offences from the courts to VicRoads. VicRoads will not exercise discretion in the same manner that the courts currently do with respect to making determinations on licence eligibility and interlock conditions. Most offences that involve drink-driving have had a mandatory minimum interlock period specified in legislation since 2014. In practice, VicRoads will apply the prescribed mandatory minimum alcohol interlock condition period set in legislation. Under the changes, VicRoads will also assume case management of ‘legacy’ drink-drivers who had a conviction or finding of guilt prior to 2017 and who have not yet returned to licensed driving. For legacy offenders who would have formerly been subject to a discretionary interlock condition at the time of their offence, they will be able to apply to VicRoads to be re-licensed without an alcohol interlock condition. They will be re-licensed if they can demonstrate that they are not dependent on alcohol and are not engaging in harmful or hazardous alcohol use. If they cannot provide evidence from a suitably qualified health professional in accordance with the regulations, an interlock condition will be imposed. Offenders dissatisfied with VicRoads decision will be able to apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a review of the decision, ensuring procedural fairness. More serious offences involving drink-driving–include manslaughter, culpable driving, police pursuits or motor vehicle theft–will still be managed by the court. These serious cases require the discretion of the court to determine whether it is appropriate for the offender to return to licensed driving, and whether the mandatory minimum alcohol interlock condition period set in legislation is sufficient when considering the severity of the offence. Further Road Safety Amendments The Bill also removes an anomaly in current sentencing, by ensuring that a minimum mandatory alcohol interlock condition applies to all drink-driving offences that result in licence cancellation and disqualification. Under the change, a first offence of dangerous driving during a police pursuit or theft of a motor vehicle where the offence was committed under the influence of alcohol will now be subject to a mandatory alcohol interlock condition period of no less than six months. These serious offenders will continue to be required to apply to the court to be re-licensed once their licence disqualification period has ended. Additionally, alcohol interlock conditions will no longer be imposed for offences that are not driving-related. A new mandatory behaviour change program for all drink-driving and drug-driving offenders is being rolled out. This will replace the existing drink-driver education course and individual assessment, which only applied to some drink-drivers. The Bill provides for the repeal of the superseded program. Other Road-Related Amendments The Bill extends exemptions from certain fatigue management rules for the drivers of rail replacement buses and buses responding to emergencies so that they also apply to persons who act as record keepers for those drivers. The Bill will also clarify beyond doubt that a driver who has been directed to stop must remain stopped until a police officer indicates that the person may proceed. Improvements to the over-dimensional vehicles crossing rail scheme are included. • The requirement for operators involved in movements across a railway track with a vehicle width of between three and five metres will no longer be required to obtain annual permits. This will reduce red tape. • The infrastructure protected under the scheme will now include railway track structures, signalling systems, and level crossing warning devices (e.g. boom gates). • Movements along tramways tracks will also now fall within scope. Operators wishing to take over-dimensional vehicles along tramway tracks will need to obtain a permit. • Amendments are being made to fee setting powers under the scheme so that cost reflective fees can be charged for high-risk applications. • Responsibility for administering the scheme will also be changed from the Secretary to the Department assisting the Minister administering the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983 (under delegation from Public Transport Victoria), to VicRoads. Public Transport Amendments Land transactions between some transport agencies will be streamlined. The Bill enables VicTrack to transfer interests in land to VicRoads and the Head, Transport for Victoria for nominal consideration. It also removes the requirement for the Treasurer to approve all VicTrack land transactions. These will avoid unnecessary administration costs for the State and reduce the potential for delays. The Bill clarifies compensation entitlements for drivers of trains involved in a fatal accident. Legislation will now reflect the existing practice of providing financial assistance to supervising drivers if they are in the driver cabin of a train involved in a fatal incident. Responsibility for determining conditions of travel on public transport will be transferred from the Secretary to the Department assisting the Minister administering the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983 to the Head, Transport for Victoria. Determining conditions of travel is an operational function, so is better aligned with the functions and power of the Head, Transport for Victoria. Conclusion This Bill delivers on our commitments to fund roads in outer suburban and interface areas and in rural and regional areas. It also makes changes to make all Victorian roads safer. I commend the Bill to the house.