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Media Release


Another Prominent Citizen "Gets Off"

PCA Calls on Scully and Debus to act now

Friday 24 November 2000
The Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA), Mr Harold Scruby, today called on Ministers Debus and Scully to withdraw the discretionary powers of Magistrates in relation to serious driving offences, in cases where the law requires an automatic licence disqualification.

Mr Scruby said: "This follows the reported (see attached) issuing of a $200 fine to the Member for Murrumbidgee, Adrian Piccoli MP, who drove through a 40 km/h School Zone at Hanwood at 72 km/h. The fixed penalty for exceeding the speed limit by 30 km/h is $514 with an automatic loss of licence for one month. If convicted by a court, the maximum penalty is $2,200 with one month automatic licence disqualification. Yet Mr Piccoli received a paltry $200 fine and kept his licence, less than six months after Ella James was killed while crossing the road in a School Zone at Bulli.

"This is just one of dozens of similar cases where the law demands automatic loss of licence, yet Magistrates are allowing many motorists, particularly prominent citizens, to drive away with a slap on the wrist. This case follows closely behind the case where P-plate driver Tony Faber-Castell drove his fatherís BMW at 203 km/h, when the maximum speed he is permitted to drive in NSW is 80 km/h. The Magistrate, Jane Mottley, fined him $56 and recorded no conviction. Other prominent citizens such as Michael Yabsley have been found guilty of driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.22, over 4 times the legal limit and been let off. Yabsley did not lose his licence for one day, yet most drivers would have been off the road for 6 months to a year. Sonia McMahon, John Singleton and Susan Renouf are just a few examples in a veritable chorus-line of wealthy and influential people who have been let off serious driving charges by Magistrates through the indiscriminate use of Section 556A of the Crimes Act.

Mr Scruby added: "The NSW Road Toll is heading towards 600, one of the worst in recent times, with 528 deaths, 12 greater than last year. This string of lenient sentences is sending a very simple message to NSW motorists, especially the rich and powerful;
DRIVE DRUNK OR DANGEROUSLY AND YOU WILL GET OFF.

"The PCA calls on Roads & Transport Minister Carl Scully and Attorney-General Bob Debus, to immediately remove the right of discretion from Magistrates in relation to serious driving offences where there is an automatic loss of licence. And we call on Mr Debus to refer this matter to the DPP requesting an appeal.

"This has nothing to do with the controversial issue of Mandatory Sentencing. Liberty is a right. A driverís licence is not a right, it is a privilege, which must be earned and maintained.

Contact: Harold Scruby Ė Chairman/CEO (0418) 110-011 or (02) 9968-4555

PEDESTRIAN COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA LIMITED - ABN 18 075 106 286 - P0 BOX 500 NEUTRAL BAY NSW 2089

Email: walking@walk.com.au - Internet: www.walk.com.au - Fax (02) 9968-4566 - Phone (02) 9968-4544