I have received a lot of correspondence from the community and it is apparent that the Weatherill Labor Government's new cycling laws have created a great level of confusion and angst.
It is clear that the Labor Government did not properly consult the public about these law changes, which is why we are now seeking the community’s input.
I recently spoke in Parliament to expand on these points, the transcript of my speech is below.
Mr WINGARD ( Mitchell ) ( 15:13 :26 ): I rise today to speak about the much-discussed bike laws and to set the record straight. This is a mess created by the state Labor government. As a party, we have always been happy to debate these laws in parliament, as the Premier said he would do. But sadly for South Australia, the state government tried to sneak these much-publicised laws through the back door.
The first time we saw the government's regulations was on 9 October 2015, and the government set the start date for the new laws just 16 days later. That is right: they did not allow it to come to parliament, they just enacted the laws and gave no chance for debate, no chance for the people of South Australia to have their say on these laws. The government has again adopted its announce and defend strategy. They promised to change, but they have not. Announce and defend is the way they operate. In fact, the government was so arrogant that they printed new road rule books before they had even moved the law changes. They printed the rule books before we or the South Australian public could see what the new rules were.
I also want to be clear that at no stage have I said or has our party said that we do not support safety elements on the roads and safety elements in these regulations. In fact, personally, I am a supporter of the one-metre rule but, sadly, the Minister for Transport has not engaged South Australians in the process.
When on radio a few days back, he was asked a question that went like this. The reporter said: 'Okay. So I can ride my bike at 50 km/h down a footpath in a suburban street…or 60 on a major road?' The Minister for Transport said, 'If you are capable of that…technically you would be able to…' His answer was 50 or 60 km/h on the footpath.
Understandably, this sent people who had not been consulted on these new laws, which is most of South Australia, into a spin. Councils, disability groups and seniors were all at their wits' end. More questions were raised, and South Australians realised the government had not taken these new laws to the parliament for debate as they had indicated they would. This government had planned to pull the wool over South Australia's eyes. There was no opportunity to discuss these laws in this place. It was more 'announce and defend' from the state government.
So, we are doing what the government should have. We are asking people their thoughts and encouraging people to contact their local member and let them know what they like and what they do not. We have set up a website, www.sacyclinglaws.com, where you can go and have your say or email your local member. We have had more than 11,000 responses in less than 24 hours with good feedback. People from all sides of politics and from no side of politics are all welcome to have their say, and they have.
On radio today, the minister has claimed that one of our questions, question 1 in the email, is misleading, which is a bit embarrassing for him because it clearly states 'leaving a 1m gap (1.5m if travelling +60kmph) when passing cyclists?' The options are 'Support/Oppose/Undecided'. The first option is actually 'Support'. People can choose whichever option they like, and they are all laid out before them. It is very simple and very straightforward.
You can always tell when a minister is under pressure. They revert to misleading and lying to cover up the inadequacies of their position on a certain issue. We heard that on radio today with the transport minister. Obviously under pressure to defend his shambolic cycling laws, he reverted to personal attacks and deliberately misleading statements.
The Liberals have distributed a perfectly responsible and accurate social media campaign asking the people of South Australia to have their say on the new cycling laws. Obviously annoyed that the Liberals have done what the minister should have done in the first place, the minister delved into the dark depths of the Labor Party's dirty tricks book, and this from a minister who is touted to be the future of the Labor Party. On behalf of all South Australians, I ask: why did the minister not debate the laws in parliament? Why did he try to sneak the laws through the backdoor? South Australians expect and deserve better.