New laws introduced by Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury this week will give police the power to force their way into a person’s home in order to test someone who is suspected of driving with alcohol or certain drugs in their system.
Yes, there are preconditions and safeguards. For instance, such an intrusion can only occur within two hours of a police officer suspecting that a person has committed a drink or drug driving offence.
But there are serious problems with such a law.
Contrary to claims of people who wouldn’t know a civil liberty if it threw them in jail, I trust and respect the work of police officers. It is, however, an ethical obligation for politicians to make laws that are not easily disposed to an abuse of power. These laws are not made with that obligation.
The Act does not prescribe the ways in which a police officer may gain a suspicion of a drink or drug driving offence.
The colour of your car may well be reason enough for the authorities to force their way into your family home and demand that a swab be taken from your mouth.
I would understand such a political move from the Canberra Conservatives who oddly call themselves the Canberra Liberals, but many would find such a draconian move from the other side of politics surprising and disturbing. I am disturbed but not surprised.
Regrettably, it is now a reasonable expectation in Australian politics that the major parties are not in the business of making laws that increase your freedoms or preserve your rights; rather, the opposite is true.
The proper role of a third force in politics is to keep the bastards honest, but it should be clear by now that the Greens have, in many cases, instead chosen to become the bastards themselves.
These laws have nothing to do with road safety and everything to do with the increasingly unsustainable prohibition of cannabis. New laws which allow police to enter a home to test a driver for drugs will be used by police to bolster their efforts to bust people for possession of marijuana.
These laws confirm that that every politician elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly is content with the ever-increasing witch-hunt against marijuana users in Canberra through new road safety laws.
The Sex Party is strongly against roadside drug testing that merely detects the presence of drugs like marijuana and ecstasy in a person’s system and is not linked to driver impairment. The Sex Party has no problems with roadside testing for alcohol because such testing determines a level of alcohol which research has shown to lead to an impaired ability to operate a vehicle.
No such levels for cannabis exist, and people are being fined substantial amounts and even imprisoned for driving with cannabis levels which pose no threat to other road users. Such laws largely impact younger people over older people and are a form of social and age discrimination.
In the ACT Assembly, the Sex Party would work to repeal these laws until a safe level of cannabis in the blood could be determined.
Steven Bailey is the lead candidate for the ACT Sex Party in the upcoming ACT Legislative Assembly election and a RiotACT columnist.