Daley won't back down on demerit points

NSW Roads Minister Michael Daley refuses to abolish demerit points for work diary offences

Daley won't back down on demerit points
Daley won't back down on demerit points
By Brad Gardner

NSW truck drivers will continue to be penalised with demerit points for work diary offences, Minister for Roads Michael Daley says.

Daley has stared down a threat from the Opposition to abolish fatigue management regulations, refusing to negotiate on the issue.

While saying drivers will not be punished for making minor errors, Daley argues demerit points must remain to penalise those who commit serious fatigue management breaches.

"Minor and substantial fatigue related offences attract a fine, but no loss of demerit points. That recognises that truck drivers do make mistakes," Daley says.

"However, it is appropriate that those charged with severe fatigue related offences, which place both the driver and other road users at risk, should face a loss of points."

Nationals leader and Opposition spokesman on roads Andrew Stoner wants the Government to amend the demerit points provision so drivers are only fined for any work diary offences.

Stoner calls the current process unfair, saying it jeopardises a truck driver’s livelihood.

Unless the Government accedes to the Opposition’s demand, Stoner has threatened to pass a disallowance motion against fatigue management regulations.

Fatigue management can be abolished by the Legislative Council because the scheme has not been legislated by the Government.

Daley has also contradicted claims by the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) that courts are not responsible for issuing demerit points.

As reported by ATN, the RTA was accused of misleading the industrywith some department representatives saying courts were responsible for demerit points, while others said the RTA held the power.

Although a spokesman for the RTA claims the department has issued demerit points for heavy vehicle offences since 2005, Daley says the role rests with magistrates.

"Demerit points are only applied by courts for the most severe fatigue related offences," he says.

According to a spokeswoman for Daley, some magistrates are forgetting to impose demerit points when issuing fines to drivers.

"From a commonsense point of view, magistrates should be mentioning that," the spokeswoman says.

She says the only role the RTA plays is sending notification letters to drivers informing them if demerit points have been applied.

Courts were stripped of the power to decide whether to waiver demerit points in extenuating circumstances, with magistrates now required to abide by a set schedule.

Courts still have the power to waiver fines, but points will be applied regardless of whether there are mitigating reasons as to why the offender broke the law.

The Law Society of NSW wants the policy amended so magistrates are also given an option on whether to impose demerit points.

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