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Tuesday, 7 September 1993
Page: 1010


Senator PANIZZA (10.13 a.m.) —I move:

  That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

  Leave granted.

  The speech read as follows

This is simply the reintroduction of the bill I introduced into the Parliament on 26 March 1992 and which lapsed due to the dissolution of Parliament prior to the election.

The reasons for this amendment bill are still exactly the same as they were in March last year and have been strengthened by the evolution of the debate during the last twelve months.

This Bill seeks to repeal part of the Australian design rule No. 19.01 which deals with electrical connections on motor cycles.

The aim of the Australian design rule which has come into effect as of l March 1992 is to force all new motor cycles that are sold from 1 March onwards to have the headlight wired in such a way that when the engine is started the headlight will automatically come on.

We are dealing specifically with clause 19.6.106.9 of the Australian Design Rule No. 19.01 of the Motor Vehicle Standards Bill 1992 which we are moving to have repealed.

The Government seems to have neglected to consult with the users regarding this new regulation. In my experience no one single motor cyclist has been pleased to have this design rule forced upon them.

There has been much research into the pros and cons of having lights wired on. The key point is that when you look for the research evidence, both in Australia and overseas, you find that what is lacking is conclusive evidence that this measure actually adds to road safety. What this means is that the government hastily made this decision without properly researching the issue and has gone ahead without properly consulting those most directly affected.

The decision as to whether to turn on the motor cycle light during the day should be up to the rider. A responsibility, as with other vehicles, that is up to the driver. The majority of cyclists do turn their lights on for part of their day riding but surely experienced riders, who are quite adamant that having the light on can add to the risk, should be allowed to make their own decisions regarding safety.

Apart from the freedom of choice aspect there is the question of legal liability. It is not clear whether or not this bill will add to the liability of the motorcyclist who could be involved in an accident with a motor car. The difficulty lies in proving whether or not the light was actually on. The globe may have been smashed in the accident, it may have blown two minutes before the impact, or the day before. Along with the legal liability question there are the ramifications for insurance.

This new design rule could also add a false sense of security. People could believe that by having the light wired on it will somehow make them safer. This, in many cases, could be the exact opposite. Questions arise concerning the ability of some motorists to judge the speed and distance apart of an oncoming vehicle with its headlight on, thus adding to the danger, not to the safety on the roads.

But when this design rule is at its most ridiculous is with agbikes having to have their light wired on.

While I support most vehemently every effort to increase road safety, I believe that this issue of motor cyclists being forced to have their light on is a misguided move by the Minister, further highlighting that this Government is out of touch with the people of Australia.

  Debate (on motion by Senator Jones) adjourned.