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Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 27 February 1990 supported by recent research in the UK and the USA which indicates that, for experi enced dri vers or experi enced dri nkers, there is vi rtua lly no increase in accident risk until levels reach 0.10% with a significant increase from 0.15%. These are the people whom we should be targeting and Dr Mclean has done some research into thi s too. He suggests that, whi le pol ice are stopping and processing drivers in the 0.05% to 0.08% bracket, they are necessarily missing out on detaining a large percentage of those drivers in the higher bracket. Dr Mclean1s research shows that it takes an average of 20 minutes to process a person with a positive reading, thus rendering the RBT unit less effective - that is, there is less chance of being pulled over. The result is a lowering in the deterrent effect of RBT, which has been demonstrated to be a far bigger deterrent to drink drivers than the arbitrary blood alcohol level, whether it be 0.08%,0.05% or, as the member for MacDonnell would have it, zero. Despite promi ses, the federal government has provided no evi denceto date to suggest that the states and territories which currently have a 0.08% limit have any reason to change other than the fact that it would resul tin uniformi ty. Un iformity for the sake of un iformity is ha rdl y an achi evement. Thi s fact is recogni sed not on ly by thi s government but also by the Labor governments of Western Australia and South Australia, the only states which currently have the 0.08 limit. What is required are practical solutions to particular problems. In the Territory, as elsewhere, we have a problem with alcohol abuse and that is a prob 1 em that we are addressing. However, no one can suggest that a person at a level of 0.08% has an alcohol problem as such. The drivers at a level level of 0.2% do have a problem and, unfortunately, they could not care less whether the limit is 0.08%, 0.05% or even zero. We have another problem, and that is that 76% of our fatal accidents i nvo 1 ve the non-use of fitted seat belts. This compares with a national average of 40%. We are currently addressing this issue with an examination of the penalties and of vehicle standards. A third point in the Prime Minister1s plan was a zero alcohol level for young drivers for the first 4 years that they are on the road. Already, we have in the Territory a zero blood-alcohol level for all Land P plate dri vers as well as for dri vers under the age of 18. However, we do not share the Prime Minister1s lack of confidence in the responsibility of young people up to the age of 25. What we would be saying to these people is that they can vote, fi ght for thei r country, stand for po 1 it i ca 1 offi ce, enter into contracts, marry and raise children but that they do not have the same rights as other members of the community in relation to driving. Certainly, we accept that inexperienced drivers, regardless of age, are at greater risk with moderate 1 eve 1 s of a 1 coho 1 and that is why we introduced our current legislation. However, there is a far more sinister proposal in the Prime Minister1s plan relating to a zero alcohol level for all professional drivers. My offi ce has been flooded with calls from dri vers and thei r employers, here and interstate, who have all pointed out how impractical such a suggestion is. Many people in the industry work on a call basis and, as such, they can be called back to work after going home each day. One glass of wine, one can of light beer and they would be automatically unavailable to work or, if they chose to work, they would be risking their licences and insurance. Comparatively speaking, these people are the most experienced drivers on our roads, yet the federal government wants to treat them like children. Scientific evidence puts them in the lowest risk category in regard to alcohol. That is another impractical suggestion which has not been thought 8784