The most visible role of our federal and state MPs is to make the laws under which society operates. The least we expect of these high-profile role models is to adhere to them.
That’s the message for Premier Rees as he awaits an inquiry into the second standing down of his now Assistant Health Minister Tony Stewart. Stewart was forced to resign as Parliamentary Secretary for Police and Utilities in 2006 after being pinged for several drink-driving offences. Not that Mr Stewart is an isolated incident as our Crikey register clocks up dozens of his state and federal colleagues.
Here’s a list of our lead-foot and sozzled lawmakers who lost points, licences and credibility as menaces on our roads:
- Tasmanian Federal MP Jodie Campbell — the Member for Bass admitted one count of drink driving when not the holder of a driver’s licence and one count of contravening vehicle standards.
- Queensland State MP Karen Struthers Member for Algester — now Qld Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health was arrested for drink-driving at more than three times the legal limit. She was picked up in her government vehicle in south Brisbane and gave a blood alcohol reading of .169.
- Queensland State MP Gary Fenlon Member for Greenslopes — now the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport Trade Employment and IR was involved in a serious road smash on that State’s Sunshine Coast in 2004. Premier Anna Bligh said Mr Fenlon had accumulated several speeding fines over the past few years. His 2004 incident resulted from driving “without due care and attention” when he veered into a woman at a petrol station leaving her with life-injuries.
- Queensland State MP Michael Choi — Member for Capalaba is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Multi-cultural Affairs despite losing a similar role in Transport. Choi was stood down after clocking up full demerit points in 2002 and 2005 on top of a record of offences dating back to the 1980’s.
- Queensland’s current Deputy Premier and former Minister for Transport Paul Lucas was cleared by the CMC of cover up over a speeding fine he incurred for which his driver took the wrap. Mr Lucas said it was an honest mistake and he repaid the driver $100 for the fine.
- Former Victorian Liberal MP Andrew Olexander registered 0.129 and wiped out several cars on a Port Melbourne street in 2004.
- Former Victorian Labor MP Carolyn Hirsh pleaded guilty to three charges, including driving while disqualified, after police pulled her over in Caulfield in September 2004. She lost her licence for six months after registering a blood-alcohol reading of 0.07 as she drove home from Parliament.
- The Hon Kerry Arthur Hickey NSW sacked as Local Government Minister over four speeding offences one of them 45Kays over the limit. Now a Committee member in the Office of the Ombudsman and member of the Police Integrity Commission.
- NSW Minister for Health and former Education Minister John Della Bosca was stripped of his driving licence for speeding in his ministerial car seven times. Mr Della Bosca had been driving on a probationary licence since the start of 2008 after accumulating demerit points for six speeding offences.
- Former NSW cabinet minister Craig Knowles Minister for Infrastructure and Planning was disqualified from driving for six months and fined $453 for drink driving. Knowles was caught by a random breath test on Sydney’s M5 in the early hours of April 2 2005 while driving home from a staff farewell.
- WA Liberal MP The Hon Troy Buswell — Treasurer and Minister for Commerce and former Labor Attorney-General Jim McGinty are just two of several WA MPs who racked up thousands of dollars in speeding fines in 2007 in their taxpayer-funded cars. In some cases our lawmakers were driving nearly 30km over the speed limit, reaching speeds of up to 124km/h and copping $500 fines as a result.
- Former Northern Territory CLP MP Member for Solomon David Tollner lost his drivers licence in 2001 for 6-months for drink-driving.
- NSW Liberal MP and Member for Port Stephens Craig Baumann was charged with drink-driving but not convicted in the early 1990s and in 2002.
- Former WA Transport Minister Alannah MacTiernan was stripped of her road safety responsibilities as transport minister in 2001 after admitting to drink driving and speeding offences. She was fined $250 two days ago for using a mobile phone while driving.