Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:44): I rise to speak to the Statutes Amendment (South Eastern Freeway Offences) Bill. I note that we are trying to get some fairness and equity into this legislation, notwithstanding the safety outcomes that we need and must always look for when we are introducing legislation like this.
I used to drive trucks and semitrailers down the old curly track that went around Eagle on the Hill and the Devil's Elbow—not the long, seven-kilometre long haul—back in 1992 and 1993. During the harvest, I brought around a dozen loads of my own wheat to Port Adelaide from Coomandook, so I know you have to come down in the appropriate gear. You only have to be one gear out to find that your brakes are smoking when you get to the bottom. It is wrong to come down too quickly, but you can manage it with gearing.
In 2019, we have far better trucks than we did in the old days. Some have automatic transmission and there are ways to control them; however, there have been some issues with what has happened here. Under the current legislation, a driver of a truck or bus can be issued with an expiation notice for a South Eastern Freeway offence, which includes fee of over $1,000, a loss of six demerit points and a licence disqualification of six months for a first offence, 12 months for a second offence and three years for a subsequent offence.
We are tidying up this legislation because people have an absolute fear, even though they believe they are doing the right thing. It is a fact that occasionally, in a heavy vehicle of over 4.5 tonne, which is the legislated limit, sometimes you have to touch the brakes. Even if you are in the right gear, you might need to keep it under speed. Some of these rigs have 18 gears or more. You may have slipped into too high a gear and have to pull it back.
In the main, I think the lessons have been learned due to the extra signage that has gone up over the years and the compliance that has been imposed. Unfortunately, we have witnessed some terrible accidents in previous years. Some of these were purely because those people had never driven the long journey down the hill. James Venning, of Pinnaroo, paid for it with his life. Sadly, we have seen smaller vehicles come down and it has caused a loss of life.
While we need to make sure that we have the right outcomes for safety, which is absolutely paramount, we also need to ensure that the truck-driving industry does not seize up because people are paranoid about coming down the freeway, or they lose their job because they have lost their licence. You have to obey the law. I must say that I think coming to some middle ground is a great outcome.
My Liberal Party branch has lobbied me in relation to this. Norm Paterson is a great man and a great leader in the Liberal Party. He is the patriarch of Paterson Bulk Transport in Cooke Plains. Norm was keen to get this legislation in place. I hope that it gets a smooth passage through the house because we need to get the balance right. We know that some people have paid the body corporate levy, which I believe is about $25,000. I believe that, with this upgraded legislation, we will get that balance correct, so that we are still getting those safety outcomes and we are taking some of the angst out of the community.
We have had some issues with people who have been in a Ford F-450, which is right on the 4½-tonne limit, but they do classify it as a truck. The problem is that, as soon as you pay the expiation fee, you have basically admitted guilt, and it is very difficult, if not impossible, to roll that back. I think we are making inroads into this today. I hope that we have generous support across the chamber. With those few words, I support the bill.