Law & Order

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Rev Fred Nile Strongly Supports New Alcohol/Drug Laws to Save Lives

In his speech to the NSW Parliament on Tuesday 12 August 2014, Rev Nile stated:
Road Transport Amendment (Alcohol and Drug Testing) Bill 2014
Reverend the Hon FRED NILE [9.03 p.m.]: I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Christian Democratic Party in this debate on the Road Transport Amendment (Alcohol and Drug Testing) Bill 2014. I congratulate the Minister, the Hon Duncan Gay, on his perseverance in pursuing this legislation and bringing it to the House. It has our total support. The purpose of this bill is to improve road safety by updating elements of the alcohol- and drug- testing regime in the Road Transport Act 2013. These legislative changes will address emerging road safety issues, support best practice with new technology, assist with the prosecution of drink- and drug-drivers and further deter impaired driving. We support the slogan “Don’t drink and drive”. It is not both; it is one or the other. If you drink, don’t drive. The Hon Dr Peter Phelps: Are you advocating drinking? Reverend the Hon FRED NILE: I am saying, “If you drink, don’t drive.” I am all in favour of people following my example and being a total abstainer. I am sure there is some support in the House for that. The Hon Lynda Voltz: No- one is putting up their hand. Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: I will check on that later. Some members have already referred to the historic introduction of random breath testing. As members have heard, it was introduced into this House in 1982—the year after I was elected, in 1981. It was one of the first big battles in the upper House. Like others, I congratulate the late George Paciullo, former Labor Minister for Police and Emergency Services, who had the courage to bring in random breath testing—against tremendous opposition and with much criticism. The former Minister asked me a number of times to see him, and we had discussions about how to get random breath testing legislation through the upper
House. Obviously, the Government had the numbers in the Legislative Assembly, but it was touch and go in the upper House and there were various moves to try, first, to stop the introduction of random breath testing and then, if it could not be stopped, to make it unworkable by lifting the level from 0.05 to 0.08 or even higher—so that you could almost be drunk and drive legally. I am glad that those efforts to stop the introduction of random breath testing, or its watering down, failed. The late George Paciullo persevered with his objective to get that legislation through the Parliament. As members know, random breath testing has had a tremendously positive impact on reducing road accidents in New South Wales.
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Another fact about random breath testing is that in 2013 police conducted more than five million breath tests, resulting in more than 20,000 drivers being charged with drink-driving offences. Over time, there have been various improvements developed to ensure that random breath testing remained robust and effective, and this bill is another dramatic move forward, giving police the powers they need to protect the community from drivers influenced by alcohol or drugs. The bill will improve the ability of New South Wales police to obtain necessary evidence for the prosecution of impaired drivers. It will create a new power for police to facilitate the collection of blood samples from intoxicated drivers who are physically unable to submit to breath analysis in order to determine a blood alcohol concentration. The bill also will reinforce the power of police to direct drivers to remain at or near the place of testing until the random drug testing process is complete. The amendment also includes the creation of a specific penalty for drivers who fail to comply with the police direction to remain at or near the place of testing. If they try to move they will be committing another offence. The
bill also provides that, in addition to existing criteria, police may require a driver to submit to a sobriety assessment if the driver’s behaviour, condition or appearance causes a police officer to form a reasonable belief that the driver is under the influence of a drug but a random breath test is negative for alcohol. The bill also will streamline the urine sampling process for drug testing to make the process simpler and less costly by removing the requirement to provide a test subject with a portion of their urine sample. The amendment does not remove a person’s right to request the sample portion for independent analysis within 12 months. The bill also keeps up to date with advances in technology and modern laboratory processes. It will clarify the wording in evidence certificates tendered in court to accurately reflect the process in the laboratory. It will ensure that interstate evidence certificates are admissible in New South Wales courts if the sample taking, handling and analysing processes correspond substantially with New South Wales provisions. Finally, the bill will provide additional amendments to confirm that the certification by police officers who previously completed the training to conduct a breath analysis using an electronic signature is supported by legislation. The bill will amend the Marine Safety Act 1988 to bring alcohol and drug testing arrangements under this Act in line with the changes to the road transport law. As occurs with other legislation, in due course a package of regulatory changes will be submitted to coincide with the commencement of the amendments in this bill. I am pleased to support the bill. As I was speaking I was reminded of the number of times I have been stopped for random breath testing. I have to encourage the police to carry out the test. When I say, “It is Reverend Fred Nile”, they are a little nervous about testing me. I say, “I guarantee that there will not be the slightest sign of alcohol in my blood. Go ahead and do your job.” And they do their job and I am pleased that they do. I support the bill.