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Wednesday, 18 May 1960

Mr TOWNLEY (Denison) (Minister for Defence) . - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to make provision for the control of surface traffic within Commonwealth airports. The movement and parking of vehicles on Commonwealth aerodromes is at present controlled by regulation 315c of the Air Navigation Regulations made under the Air Navigation Act 1920-1950. This regulation, which was originally promulgated in 1954 and amended in 1957, contains detailed rules relating to the parking of vehicles, and provides for the imposition of parking fees not exceeding 2s. for each hour during which a vehicle is left standing, and for the removal of vehicles left standing in contravention of the regulations.

With the increasing volume of traffic using major aerodromes, the number of staff necessary to administer the regulation has steadily increased, with a corresponding increase in the financial cost. Even when sufficient staff can be provided, defects in the existing system have, in many cases, made it impracticable to enforce the provisions of regulation 315c. Quite frequently, drivers of vehicles take advantage of the fact that by refusing to divulge their names and addresses, any effective action in respect of an offence is extremely difficult. Deliberate contraventions of the regulations are becoming more frequent, especially by persons employed within the airport. To meet this situation, the bill adopts the system based on the service of a parking infringement notice coupled with owneronus.

Owner-onus in connexion with traffic offences is, of course, no novelty in Australia. I understand that a system of owner-onus is in force in certain areas of all the mainland States. Under a typical State system of owner-onus, where there is a parking infringement, the owner of the vehicle is deemed to be guilty of the offence in all respects as if he were the actual offender, unless the court is satisfied that the vehicle was stolen or being illegally used.

Parking infringement notices are also familiar in a majority of the States. This is not a method of arbitrarily imposing fines on alleged offenders, but gives the offender the choice between paying a relatively small prescribed fine - £2 is proposed in the case of Commonwealth-owned airports - and defending a prosecution in the normal way. In the case of more serious offences or repeated offences by the same owner, the offender would not, of course, be given the opportunity to expiate the offence by payment of a penalty of £2. On this point, attention is invited to sub-clause 11 of clause 12 of the bill, which makes it clear that a person can be prosecuted without first having been served with a parking infringement notice. It is, of course, of far greater importance that an alleged offender is always free to defend thepr oceedings in the ordinary courts if he feelsthat his interests will be best served by doing so.

While the bill makes special provision in relation to all parking matters which it is considered require special treatment to ensure the proper functioning of aerodromes, it is recognized that a significant part of applicable State and territorial traffic laws is quite adequate, and that it would be both costly and administratively unwarranted for the Commonwealth to attempt to develop a self-contained traffic code for Commonwealth airports. Clause 18 ofthe bill, therefore, provides that, except where otherwise provided, expressly orby necessary implication, in the act or regulations made thereunder, applicable provisions of State and territorial traffic codes will continue to apply and, in particular,any such law relating to the registration and equipment of vehicles, the licensing of drivers of motor vehicles and therules to be observed by persons driving or in charge of vehicles on roads within airports.

There are also the normal type of provisions relating to delegation of powers and functions, the making of regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of the act, butnecessary to supplement those provisions and provisions dealing with evidentarymatters. The bill also authorizes arrangements to be made with the States fortheco-operation and assistance of State policeandpaymentbytheCommonwealth forsuchservices. The fact that the bill is closelyrelatedto the Air Navigation Bill andspringsfromthe overhaul of the voluminousairnavitgationregulationsin highlightedbythefactthatclause21ofthe billprovidesthattheannualreport to Par- liamentontheadministrationofthe Air NavigationAct 1920-1960 and regulations mustalsoincludeastatementsettingout detailsofprosecutionsandparking infringements under this bill.

Years of experience in the management of Commonwealth aerodromes have shown the need for control of vehicular traffic in the manner contemplated by this bill. Without such controls, the proper functioning of aerodromes is jeopardized. The bill has the great merit that it quite clearly includes all the main requirements relating to parking infringements in the act. I commend the bill to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr. E. James Harrison) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.

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