TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (17:53): I move:
That the second-reading speech be incorporated into Hansard.
Motion agreed to.
Ms TIERNEY: I move:
That the bill be now read a second time.
Incorporated speech as follows:
In October last year I was pleased to introduce the Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 to support the delivery of Big Build projects, meet Government policy commitments and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of transport regulation. I was pleased to do so at this time because the actions that the Government had taken to reduce and control the spread of Covid-19 were starting to pay dividends. I thought then, as I do now, that the priority of the Parliament should be to progress initiatives that provide for the recovery of the Victorian economy and community. Further, that the Parliament needs to get on with the job of implementing reforms to improve our regulatory systems to reduce red tape, improve safety outcomes and make sure our transport networks are as effective and efficient as possible.
The content of that Bill, now an Act made by this Parliament, struck the right balance in achieving those objectives. Equally, the Bill that I now have the pleasure of introducing to this Parliament supports:
• the delivery of infrastructure investments;
• implementation of election commitments and other policy commitments made by the Andrews Government;
• important regulatory reforms that will support, and will not disrupt, the recovery of the transport industry; and
• reforms to improve road safety.
Objective of the Bill
This Bill supports the implementation of the Government’s commitment to continually improve and refine the regulatory environment in which our transport system operates and ensure that it is administered effectively and efficiently. The Bill also makes some other changes to implement a risk-based approach to the regulation of bus safety; supports the delivery of infrastructure projects; ensures that authorised fisheries officers are provided with legislative protections when enforcing numerous laws concurrently; and makes improvements to road safety laws and other Acts in the transport portfolio.
Administering regulations and government policy commitments efficiently and effectively
There are many synergies between the recreational boating and the fishing portfolios. It is estimated that approximately 70% of recreational boating activity is fishing related. Community needs in relation to boating and fishing are therefore closely aligned. This is one of the key reasons why the Andrews Government combined the Fishing and Boating Ministerial portfolios.
The Bill consolidates recreational boating and fishing functions by transferring the boating functions being performed by the Department of Transport to the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA). Consolidation will deliver efficiency gains in relation to infrastructure project delivery and service improvements in areas such as disruption management. It also maximises alignment and coordination between fish stocking activities undertaken by the VFA with the development, upgrade and maintenance of facilities that are needed to access recreational fishing opportunities.
The aim over the next two years is to establish a more mature and predictable project development and delivery pipeline for the development and management of boating facilities. The government is presently engaged in the development of a 10-year recreational boating strategy with an initial 12-month action plan that will prioritise where marine licence and vessel registration fee revenue for 2020–21 will be spent.
The Government committed to establish the Better Boating Fund and ensure that all marine licence and vessel registration fee revenue is spent on priorities agreed with recreational boating and fishing stakeholders. The organisational changes proposed in the Bill are needed to support more efficient and effective project delivery.
Another change included in the Bill is also intended to enable efficiency gains to be realised in the future. The Bill provides for the definition of “sector transport agency” under the Transport Integration Act 2010 (TIA) to be changed to include the Director, Transport Safety.
Following the transfer of service delivery arrangements for regulation of:
• domestic commercial vessel safety to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority;
• rail safety (including trams) to the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator; and
• heavy vehicle safety to the national heavy vehicle regulator,
consolidation of the transport regulatory functions that remain under the direct control of Victoria is needed.
The convergence towards risk-based approaches to transport safety schemes that has occurred over the last 10 years supports and enables consolidation of transport regulatory functions. It also promises to enable greater resource flexibility in fulfilling regulatory functions across the different modal areas.
A more risk-based approach to the regulation of Bus Safety
Currently, bus operators are required to either obtain a bus operator accreditation or registration depending on the type of bus service provided or the type of buses used. The Bill will consolidate the bus operator accreditation and registration schemes so that all bus operators are required to demonstrate competence and capacity to provide services safely, regardless of the service provided or the types of buses used.
This new consolidated scheme would be implemented by applying a risk-based approach to the assessment of competence and capacity that is less rigid and more effective than the current two-tiered system of regulation. The risk-based approach is also expected to reduce red tape and associated administrative delays.
The changes will level the playing field across different types of operators, as well as providing opportunities for smaller operators to expand their operations by using larger buses.
The new risk-based approach will only be applied to new operators that enter the market post commencement of the amendments specified in the Bill. Existing registered and accredited operators will be deemed to be accredited under the new arrangements and will not be required to apply for accreditation again or demonstrate their competence and capacity to operate safety. However, existing operators will remain subject to audit for compliance with their existing safety duties under the Bus Safety Act 2009.
To complement the adoption of a more risk-based approach to permitting entry into the industry, the bus safety regulator will be required to develop and publish a compliance monitoring and enforcement policy. The policy must set out:
• proportionate, cost effective and efficient options for monitoring, promoting compliance and enforcing the Bus Safety Act 2009 and the regulations; and
• how the bus safety regulator will use those options to monitor, promote compliance and enforce the Bus Safety Act 2009 and the regulations.
The aim of requiring the policy to be developed and published is to promote transparency as to how the bus safety regulator will work with the bus industry to improve compliance with safety duties and improve safety outcomes. The policy will both set expectations and improve accountability.
The final amendment that the Bill makes to the Bus Safety Act 2009 is to enable regulations to be made under the Act to define “hazardous areas” and then set specific driver licencing and vehicle requirements that apply to vehicles carrying more than 9 persons in those hazardous areas. This change is made to enable the relocation of special requirements that apply in alpine areas from the Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulations to the Bus Safety Regulations so that they can be administered in part by the bus safety regulator.
Supporting the delivery of the Alphington Link Project
The Alphington Link Project is an election commitment that will provide a much-needed link to the Darebin Yarra Trail, and provides access for more than 600 kilometres of off-road trails and a safer off-road option to commute to the city and other centres.
The most direct route for the Alphington Link goes through a parcel of land owned by the Latrobe Golf Club. The land is subject to the Cultural and Recreational Lands Act 1963 which provides that the land can be acquired by agreement, or by an Act that authorises compulsory acquisition for specified purposes.
The Bill authorises compulsorily acquisition of the land for the Alphington link project by amendment to the Road Management Act 2004. The amount of land required to be compulsorily acquired from the Latrobe Golf Course is approximately 600 metres squared in total. It is in the form of a strip of land 4 metres wide by 150 metres in length.
Certainty of protection for authorised officers against assault or obstruction
Authorised officers appointed under the Victorian Fisheries Authority Act 2016 (VFAA) exercise various powers under different Acts and enforce these concurrently with, or incidental to, the enforcement of the Fisheries Act 1995. Some relevant laws may not have protections for fisheries officers or operate inconsistently with those provided under the Fisheries Act 1995.
The amendments ensure that there are no gaps in coverage for authorised officers and that there is clarity on which protections apply in relevant circumstances. The Bill also increases penalties for specified offences against authorised officers under the Fisheries Act 1995 from 20 penalty units to 60 penalty units, so that the same offending is treated consistently across the transport portfolio.
Amendments to road safety laws
It is an offence for a body corporate to fail to nominate the responsible driver for three or more relevant infringement notices served within 12 months. The Bill extends the definition of relevant infringement notice to capture speeding offences that now attract mandatory licence suspension. This will ensure that high level speed offenders will not be able to hide behind body corporates and avoid licensing sanctions.
The Bill will amend the Road Safety Act 1986 to increase penalties for unlicensed driving. Unlicensed driving is high risk behaviour and has been a road safety focus for some time. In recent years, the penalties for high risk behaviours, including unlicensed driving, have risen. There are a couple of instances where penalties did not change, and this Bill corrects that.
The Bill will also increase the maximum court penalties for learner drivers driving whilst unsupervised from 20 to 60 penalty units and imprisonment for not more than 6 months. The change reflects the serious risks posed by unsupervised learner drivers. The Bill also increases the maximum court awarded penalty for unlicensed driving due to a failure to renew a licence within 6 months of expiry from 10 to 20 penalty units.
The Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulations are currently being reviewed and remade before they expire in October 2021. The Bill enables regulations to be made to expand the powers of the Secretary to supervise the issuing of certificates by authorised persons relating to compliance with vehicle registration standards and requirements. This is intended to enable different service delivery arrangements to be deployed in circumstances where they are cost effective and beneficial to customers. For example, it will enable better oversight of persons authorised to clear defect notices.
The Bill will also include a number of minor or technical amendments to the RSA, including:
• clarification that a person does not need to comply with an alcohol interlock condition if the person is undergoing a driving assessment or is driving under the supervision of a driving instructor;
• removing any doubt that where a speeding offence is dealt with in court and the offender does not have a Victorian licence to suspend, the court will be required to disqualify the person from driving in Victoria for the same period as the person would have had a Victorian licence or permit suspended for that offence;
• confirming that administrators of alcohol interlock condition are required to treat a visiting interstate driver who breaches a condition in the same way as if they had breached a Victorian alcohol interlock condition;
• clarifying that for offences attracting immediate suspension by police where a person does not have a Victorian driver licence, the person will be subject to an immediate disqualification from driving in Victoria that will apply for the same period as if the person had held a Victorian driver licence and it had been suspended;
• providing for approval of an alcohol interlock supplier or other road safety service provider to be transferred from one entity to another in certain circumstances, for example, when a trading name is changed;
• providing that interstate offenders who hold an interstate licence subject to an interstate alcohol interlock condition will be subject to the zero BAC requirement in Victoria;
• aligning the time periods that apply to drink-driving offenders in relation to the mandatory carriage of driver licences;
• removing overlapping requirements (in sections 59 and 64A of the Road Safety Act 1986) to stop and remain stopped;
• addressing inconsistencies between the penalties for offences related to the duty to give information which may lead to the identification of the driver of a motor vehicle; and
• correcting cross references in sections 9AE and 19A of the Road Safety Act 1986 (RSA) to the Fines Reform Act 2014.
Improvements to the regulation of commercial passenger vehicles
The Bill amends the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017 to allow any person who holds an equivalent interstate driver licence to gain commercial passenger vehicle driver accreditation in Victoria. This is intended to simplify compliance for people who wish to drive commercial passenger vehicles in border towns. For example, a person who lives in Albury but works for a taxi firm based on Wodonga can apply for accreditation using that persons NSW drivers licence rather than being forced to apply for a Victorian licence or for a special exemption from the regulator. This will provide modest but worthwhile red tape reductions.
The Bill also introduces a new offence for owners of vehicles to knowingly permit an unregistered vehicle to be used to provide a commercial passenger vehicle service. This is intended to help prevent social media platforms being used to solicit commercial passenger vehicle services when the person providing booking services is not accredited to act as a booking service provider.
To support enforcement action being undertaken by the regulator, the Bill amends the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 to enable the indicatable offences in the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017 to be heard summarily.
Miscellaneous and technical amendments to other Acts
The Bill also makes minor or technical amendments that:
• Replace references in the Road Management Act 2004 to the predecessor of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning;
• Address gaps in the specification of decisions that should be reviewable decisions under the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017;
• Substitute references to “an accredited driver” with “a person” in specified provisions in the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Act 2017 to avoid circularity and associated difficulties with interpretation;
• Clarify that the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Authority, which is subject to the direction of the Secretary of the Department of Transport, is able to share sensitive information with the Secretary;
• Confirm that the Treasurer may execute a guarantee in favour of any person regarding the performance of any obligations of the Head, Transport for Victoria under a contract transferred to the Head, Transport for Victoria from the Public Transport Development Authority or the Roads Corporation;
• Update the reference to the Australian Builders Plate Standard in the Marine Safety Act 2010;
• Correct cross references and fix grammar errors in the Rail Management Act 1996;
• Make amendments to the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983 and the Transport (Safety Schemes Compliance and Enforcement) Act 2014 that are consequential to the bus safety reforms contained in the Bill; and
• Make a drafting change to the Transport Legislation Amendment Act 2020 to avoid unintended administrative requirements relating to land occupied by railways.
This Bill is a further demonstration that the Government is getting on with the job of making improvements in transport system regulation, safety and performance in the interests of the Victorian community.
All of the amendments are necessary to ensure that transport laws work as intended and deliver what is needed.
The transport system is already seeing significant increases in demand and utilisation as we shift into our “COVID normal”.
I commend the Bill to the house.