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Traffic Amendment (Personal Mobility Devices) Bill 2021

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Tags: Legislation, Transport

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, we will be supporting the Traffic Amendment (Personal Mobility Devices) Bill 2021. This is legislation that contemporises the kind of transport we can have on our roads. We want to see as many clean transport solutions on our roads as possible. I am quite pleased to see a Liberal government moving in this direction, given the antagonism we have had at a federal level to electric vehicles until, apparently, only yesterday. Certainly, happy to see more e-scooters, e-skateboards and self-balancing hoverboards on the roads.

We are also going to see those kinds of personal mobility devices come as well where people will be flying around in the skies, which is a whole new level of regulatory complexity on the way.

I want to place on the record, given that we are in a traffic and transport debate, correspondence that a number of members of parliament have received from people who live along the Southern Outlet. There has been a worrying level of disrespect shown to those homeowners who live on that side of the Southern Outlet. It is five weeks since they co signed with a number of community representatives, including me, a letter to the Premier asking him to take an interest in the proposed fifth lane, to intervene. There has been no response from the Premier to people who live along the Southern Outlet.

I know that when you are a northern member it is very easy to flick your hand at the south. We saw Dr Broad do that earlier in the debate on the stadiums, and it comes up from time to time. You do not generally hear MPs who represent southern electorates being so partisan and dismissive of MPs from the north. It does not cut both ways.

This community is entitled to a response from the Premier. This community has a very legitimate sense of injustice and of not being heard. They asked in that letter to the Premier to see what the rationale was. They inquired about whether any modelling had been done on alternatives. They told a personal story of connection to their place and expressed a frustration about an apparent lack of imagination about possible alternative approaches, and a frustration that they felt they were being steamrolled and there was no scope in the Government's thinking for another way of doing things.

This is a government, as we know, that when it talks about infrastructure, it primarily means road infrastructure. In 2021, it is so terrific to see a bill like the one we are debating today which is not about cars and roads. We have not heard from this minister why there has not been exploration, for example, of changing public service work hours. Why there has not been more incentive given to people to ride-share. Why there has not been a rapidly accelerated park and ride capacity. There are things that you could do here without destroying people's homes and displacing them, by the by, in the middle of a housing crisis.

The first thing you should do when you are the Premier of Tasmania is have the respect to respond to a community. We are not talking about one individual who lives there. We are talking about a community of people who live along the Southern Outlet, who have written to the Premier in good faith more than a month ago. All they have received so far is the standard acknowledgement. It is not good enough. It is disrespectful. I hope my colleague in Clark, Ms Archer, is listening and takes this up with the Premier too, because these are Ms Archer's constituents as well.

Ms Archer - I have been communicating with them.

Ms O'CONNOR - That is very good to hear, but there is a genuine concern that the Premier plans to ignore this letter. Mind you, Dr Woodruff and I recently wrote a letter to another member of this place and that has been completely ignored too.

My question to the minister is, what is the current legal status of personal mobility devices like this? There is a whole range of different types of vehicles, or mobility machines that ply the roads. We have e bikes. We have assistive chairs for people who have mobility challenges. Where do these personal mobility devices currently sit within the law? Why are the treated differently? For example, you need a provision within a statute from a standard scooter or skateboard. Is it because sometimes they can go faster? Why is there a whole layer of legislation and regulation around these machines when you have a look at some of the other machines?

Perhaps the minister can help us understand what the legal framework is around an ordinary skateboard as opposed to an e skateboard. Has the minister given any thought to the possibility that at some level, if we are limiting this to roads that have a 50 kilometre an hour speed limit, that we might be disadvantaging people who live in rural and regional areas where the speed limit between Campbell Town and Longford might be 80 kilometres an hour - I think it is 110 kilometres an hour but it is certainly the only local road that some of those people will have access to.

I note that there is a capacity for other local roads to be brought in under the subordinate regulations. I will be somewhat interested to hear what that might look like. When we talk about 'some' public infrastructure, what does that mean? Is it some public roads?

Mr Ferguson - Yes.

Ms O'CONNOR - So, now in your Government's mind, are the words 'roads' and 'infrastructure' indivisible? What this actually says then, if we just read it in plain English, so, subordinate legislative amendments are also being progressed to permit personal mobility devices on 'some' public roads. So, even though the second reading speech and the factsheet talk about infrastructure, we are only talking about roads because -

Mr Ferguson - No, that is not quite right.

Ms O'CONNOR - Well then, you explain that to me to when you get up.

Mr Ferguson - Bike paths, shared paths and footpaths.

Ms O'CONNOR - Right. So we would allow self-balancing hover-boards on footpaths?

Mr Ferguson - Yes.

Ms O'CONNOR - All right. I was hoping that the minister who is in fact responsible for the plan to put a fifth lane on the Southern Outlet might respond to the concerns that have just been sent through at 1.42 pm today by the Southern Outlet noise-affected residents that feel they are not being heard. They want to know why the minister or the department will not release the modelling figures even though they have been asked in writing on at least two occasions.

With those few comments, obviously we would be supporting this bill. It will be great to see some of these machines on the road in the near future.