Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill
This Bill proposes to introduce a maximum wheel clamping fee of $100 that can be imposed by anyone who uses “immobilising devices” for parking enforcement on private property. It is a response to years of complaints by motorists who claim they have been unfairly penalised, often because parking rules are unclear, with fines to release a clamp often exceeding $200.
The AA has long called for private parking and enforcement to be regulated, so this Bill is a positive development which we support, however we would prefer it to go further, by also regulating minimum signage standards for the operators of privately-owned public carparks.
However, the AA recommends that the proposed maximum penalty fee be revised down to $50, and that the Bill also impose a 10-minute ‘grace period’ before any such penalty can be applied. Our view is that a $100 penalty is still too high because a common complaint from motorists who have been clamped is that there was inadequate or unclear signage explaining the rules. Therefore motorists are often not to blame and we don’t think they should be unduly penalised as a result of property owners failing to install adequate parking controls and signage.
Driver Licensing Amendment Rule
This Rule proposes a number of changes to licensing requirements, many of them administrative, but the biggest change is to reduce the requirements for eyesight testing. The rule proposes to only require an initial screening when obtaining a Learner licence, another from age 45, and then again from age 75 and bi-annually from age 80. The AA’s preference is to retain the current 10-yearly test, but in the absence of that we supported this proposal. We also supported removing the requirement for screenings at each stage of the GDLS, provided people graduated to the next phase within 2 years. Other proposals include removing the Class 3 licence, which the AA supported, removing the requirements for special-type vehicle endorsements, which we opposed, and standardising the rules for tractors.
Light-vehicle Brakes Amendment Rule
The primary proposal of this Rule is to mandate that newly-imported motorcycles be fitted with ABS as standard, or a combined braking system in the case of mopeds over 125cc. This Rule would take effect from as early as November 2019 for ‘new design’ new motorcycles, and November 2021 for ‘existing design’ new models and used imports.
The AA’s submission supports this proposal on the basis that international evidence shows that ABS reduces motorcycle crashes on sealed roads, but that the earlier date be delayed until April 2020 due to the long lead time needed by manufacturers. The Rule would not apply to specialist motorsport bikes, but we sought clarification that it also exempts farm bikes. The AA also supported exempting any used imports manufactured prior to 1990, and the creation of a new Special Interest Motorcycle (SIM) permit scheme (similar to the one for cars) to exempt up to 100 newer specialist motorcycles that are not manufactured with ABS.
Market study into retail fuel sector – preliminary issues
The Commerce Commission has released its proposed scope for the market study into the retail fuel sector, including the preliminary issues it proposes to explore. Whist the study is expressly limited to sale of petrol and diesel to retail customers, the AA’s submission suggested that the study also needed to compare retail margins with margins for other fuel products (aviation, marine, bitumen and bulk diesel) as we are concerned that these may be being cross-subsidised by retail fuel sales. We also said the investigation of margins needs to separately assess regular (91 octane), premium (95 and 98 octane) petrol grades, and diesel, as margins are consistently higher for premium petrol and diesel compared to regular petrol, meaning prices may be higher than they should be. We also noted prices for premium petrol are often much higher than regular due to the lack of price discounting (which could be rectified by mandating the display of premium prices on the roadside boards).
Local government funding and financing
The Productivity Commission is currently undertaking an inquiry in local government funding and financing. Local government is responsible for providing the services (including water, transport, flood protection, waste management) that enable communities to function. The inquiry will investigate the cost of services provided by local government, how they are paid for and the adequacy and efficiency of the current local government funding and financing framework.
The AA’s submission naturally focused on transport costs; the main concerns we highlighted are:
- Potential underinvestment in transport infrastructure
- A lack of knowledge about the condition and performance of critical assets, resulting in poor asset management (such as maintenance not happening when needed)
- No clear national standards for the state of roads
- Ensuring ratepayers understand what service improvements they will receive in return for increasing rates
- Making best use of funding tools, especially ensuring those who benefit are paying for transport infrastructure