NSW rubbishes proposed fatigue points overhaul

NSW Government refuses to back demerit points overhaul, claiming it will lead to "poor and deficient policy"

By Brad Gardner | October 30, 2009

The Rees Government has refused to support a proposal to amend the New South Wales demerit points system because it will lead to "poor and deficient policy".

Maitland MP Frank Terenzini has criticised Nationals leader Andrew Stoner’s bid to allow courts to record a guilty verdict but waive points for speed and traffic offences in extenuating circumstances.

Magistrates can currently find someone guilty but dismiss fines and Stoner says it is logical the same method applies for demerit points.

But Terenzini claims the suggested reform, outlined in the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment (Demerit Points) Bill introduced by Stoner, will lead to dangerous drivers not being penalised.

"Under this bill, people who are found guilty of an offence, for example, speeding or driving through a red traffic light, will be able to get away with no punishment at all," he says.

"How can it be good public policy if someone found guilty of those two offences [speeding and traffic infringements] does not have demerit points allocated against their licence?"

The Law Society of NSW has long campaigned for changes to the demerit points system on the basis offenders given a second chance by courts should not face further penalties.

However, Terenzini says there is a link between safety and demerit points

"The demerit points system has proven that it has reduced the road toll and is the most effective way of correcting or changing driver behaviour," he says.

The NSW road toll as of October 29 is 396 – 93 more deaths than the same period last year.

Sections of the trucking industry are opposed to the demerit points system on the basis it is unfair.

As reported by ATN, a driver of a NSW-based trucking company faced a $250 fine for incorrectly filling out his work diary.

The magistrate found him guilty but waived the fee because the driver suffered from Asperger Syndrome, which is a form of Autism.

Despite this, four demerit points were still added because the magistrate had no power to rule on them.

There has also been confusion because former Minister for Roads Michael Daley previously said magistrates were obliged to inform drivers during court cases, while the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) has said it is responsible for issuing demerit points.

The Opposition is trying to abolish demerit points for work diary offences through a disallowance motion in the Legislative Council.

Former Minister for Roads Michael Daley passed demerit points for work diary offences as a regulation, meaning it can be abolished by a majority vote in the Council.

The Opposition holds a majority and Stoner’s spokesman says the motion is due to be reviewed in November.

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