‘A metre matters’ legislation likely to pass Victorian upper house tomorrow

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The Australian state of Victoria could be moving towards the introduction of ‘a metre matters’ legislation after all, with a Greens bill likely to pass through the state parliament’s upper house tomorrow.

The Greens’ minimum passing distance law (MPDL) bill would require drivers to leave a minimum of 1 metre when overtaking cyclists on roads with a speed limit up to and including 60km/h, or 1.5 metres on faster roads. The Greens are confident they’ve secured the numbers to get the bill passed.

“The only way this won’t be made into law tomorrow is if the government actively blocks our bill,” said Greens transport spokesperson Samantha Dunn. “Growing numbers of Victorian cyclists are being killed or hospitalised after incidents on the road. Requiring motorists to give cyclists more space would be a big step towards making the roads safer.

“This is a simple, common-sense reform that is working in other states and in many countries overseas. We are optimistic that our bill will pass parliament’s upper house tomorrow.”

Victoria is currently the only state in Australia without a MPDL either in place permanently, being trialled, or pledged. A state parliamentary inquiry last year recommended the introduction of a Victorian MPDL, but in March 2017 the Daniel Andrews Labor government announced it had no immediate plans to introduce such a law. It instead indicated its support for a “year long community education campaign designed to change motorists’ behaviours towards cyclists.”

If the Greens bill does indeed pass the upper house it will be cause for quiet optimism for supporters of a Victorian MPDL.

The Greens’ confidence ahead of tomorrow’s parliamentary sitting suggests the party has secured the support of the Liberal and National coalition, giving the Greens at least 21 votes for the bill in the 40-seat legislative council. If passed, the bill will be delivered to the lower house where it will be up to the majority Labor government to decide how to proceed.

Several possibilities exist:

– The Andrews government might choose to stall, effectively putting the bill in limbo.

– The government might see that support for the bill is widespread and decide to instead support a MPDL.

– The government might introduce the bill to the lower house and use its majority to defeat the bill right away — a provocative gesture.

As with any bill, the MPDL bill will need to pass both houses of parliament before it can become law.

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