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AMENDMENT – remove potential for future tolls on trailers

Mar 20, 2019 | Parliament

Mr BARTON: I move:

1. Clause 1, page 2, lines 20 to 24, omit all words and expressions on these lines.

I am aware this tests many of my other amendments. I would just like to make a few comments around this. This bill is not about what has not been released, it is about what has not been said. It is certainly our view that this is a stepping stone moving towards Transurban charging for trailers, caravans and boats, and if they do want to move in that direction, they should be transparent and say so. I am a little bit at a disadvantage as well because the government have not come back to me and advised me of their concerns. We note this has also been linked to the West Gate Tunnel, EastLink and CityLink. We are also concerned about the hundreds of trailers being rented every weekend around Melbourne, and what we are doing now is making people who rent those trailers collectors for Transurban. We just think that is wrong. That is not their business.

Mr JENNINGS: Mr Barton, my apologies if in fact the government has not come back and confirmed its view to you. I was not aware that had not been conveyed to you, so my apologies for that. I had believed that was the case. As a general response to the issues on which you wish to amend the bill, the government is not in a position to be able to support the amendments that you have proposed. Indeed, in light of information in relation to trailers, the bill does extend the operator onus provisions for tolling offences to registered operators of trailers.

The operator onus makes the registered operator of a motor vehicle liable for a traffic offence unless that operator can identify the actual driver or establish that the vehicle was illegally used or had been sold at the time of the offence. The operator onus applies to speed and red light offences detected by cameras or similar technology and to tolling offences on CityLink and EastLink. The bill does extend the operator onus to the operator of a trailer being towed by a motor vehicle on a tollway where the registered operator of the towing vehicle cannot be identified—for example, because the towing vehicle cannot be identified.

The registered operator for the trailer will be able to avoid liability in the same way as the registered operator of a motor vehicle can. The Road Safety Act 1986 already makes provisions for operator onus to apply to operators of trailers where a towing vehicle commits a traffic offence, such as a red light offence. The amendment makes consistent provisions for tolling offences on the West Gate Tunnel tollway as well as on the existing tollways. This addresses the situation where the drivers and operators of prime movers and other towing vehicles can potentially avoid liability for tolling offences if the vehicle that is towing a trailer is owned by a different operator. This type of toll avoidance is unfair for the operators of the tollways and to motorists who pay their tolls. The legislation does not allow a vehicle that is towing a trailer to be charged with two offences. The legislation will enable the vehicle towing the trailer to be charged or the owner of the trailer, but not both, if the owner of the vehicle cannot be identified. If that has not been conveyed to you before, I apologise for that.

Dr RATNAM: I would like to ask some questions on clause 1. I am happy to do that post the vote on the amendment, if that is suitable, or ask the questions now.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: We will put the question first, which is that Mr Barton’s amendment to clause 1, which tests his amendments 2 to 37, 40 to 47, 49 to 74, 77, 78, 80 to 94, 97, and 99 to 102, be agreed to.

Amendment negatived.

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