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Friday, 8 November 1985
Page: 1823


Senator VIGOR(10.57) —by leave-I move:

(1) Page 5, clause 3, after sub-clause (10) insert the following sub-clause:

`(10A) Notwithstanding sub-section (10), a prescribed fee shall not exceed $100.'.

(2) Pages 20 and 21, clause 27, sub-clause (1), leave out the sub-clause, insert the following sub-clause:

`(1) Subject to this Act, where a court, on application made to it by a Licensing Authority for an order under paragraph (d), is satisfied that-

(a) a person has, after the commencement of this section, on one or more occasions, contravened, attempted to contravene, or been involved in a contravention of, one or more relevant safety provisions; and

(b) it is in the interests of public safety to do so,

the court may-

(c) except where the person has been admonished under this paragraph on 2 occasions in the period of 10 years ending on the day on which the application was made-admonish the person; or

(d) make an order disqualifying the person, either permanently or for a specified period, from participating in long distance interstate transport business.'.

The first of these amendments is aimed at setting a ceiling on the licence fee for operators. On page 5, in clause 3, we wish to insert that the prescribed fee shall not exceed $100. The fee is set by regulation and all we are doing is setting a ceiling on it. I believe that the Government will support this.

The second amendment is very much more significant. It deals with the penalty clause, clause 27 of the Bill. Under the Government's proposed legislation the draconian penalty was, to be applied by the courts, of removing an operator from the industry or in other words cancelling his licence if he contravened any of the safety aspects of the legislation. This seemed to be too harsh and we examined the possibility of introducing fines. However, there are reasons under section 92 of the Constitution why fines might not be seen as a way of offering a lesser penalty in this case because it would be an impost on interstate trade. Under advice we have moved that an admonishment be a possible penalty. However, that would be letting people off too easily, so the idea of the current amendment is that an operator shall be allowed no more than two admonishments in a period of 10 years and then the court must make an order for disqualification.

I believe that these two amendments go some way towards getting rid of feelings in the industry that the licence fee might have been exorbitant or very large because it was not specified in the Bill. Our amendment states that the licence fee will simply be an administrative charge and that it will not exceed $100. In the other case, people will not feel that for a mistake or error of some kind, such as one of the safety standard monitoring devices falling off a truck, an operator can be pushed out of the industry forever. Basically, that is what would have happened with a disqualification. The disqualification could have been for a short period and I believe that larger operators might not have been charged by the courts. The admonishment system is like the demerit system that already exists and works in the States. I highly recommend these amendments to the Senate.