Thursday, 11 May 2017
Drivers With A Disability
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking questions of the Minister for Police about advice his office is providing constituents.
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: This morning, my office received a phone call from a constituent. The constituent is the mother of an adult son with disabilities who has been pulled over (that is, the son) by police multiple times while driving. It appears that the driver is not being stopped due to any traffic or other infringements, but because of his appearance.
It seems that, because this person is of short stature, SAPOL may be interpreting that the driver is underage because of his height, despite the fact that he is a licensed and experienced driver who drives to his work. The mother called my office this morning to inquire as to what she might do about this matter after being referred to me by the office of the Minister for Police, the Hon. Peter Malinauskas of course.
Instead of his office seeking to resolve the constituent’s query, I understand that the ministerial liaison officer suggested that the mother, as an alternative, ‘call Kelly Vincent’s office’. My questions to the minister are:
- Has the minister directed that calls to his office that include disability issues be directed to my office?
- Is the minister aware of a cabinet directive where queries including the word ‘disability’ to the minister’s office are instead directed to mine?
- If he has not directed this to occur, is the minister aware that staff in his office are directing disability-related inquiries to our office?
- Will the minister confirm, as the Minister for Police, that he is in fact in charge of all police matters, even if they include disability-related issues?
- Will the minister please advise whether processes could be put in place for this constituent, so that he is not subjected to further interrogation by police while driving lawfully?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): As there are five different components to the question, I will endeavour to deal with each of them. With regard to the components that deal with the consistent subject of a potential instruction from me to my staff around referring people to you, no, I have never given an instruction to my staff to refer matters to the office of Kelly Vincent. I am not aware of people from my office referring people to the office of Kelly Vincent, but I am more than happy to make inquiries to ensure that that has not occurred.
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS: Sorry, what was the—
The PRESIDENT: It is a little bit rude referring to someone of the other house as ‘smart alec’. If you want to mention anyone in the lower house, mention them by their proper title.
The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: Even when they interject, Mr President?
The PRESIDENT: Even when you interject. Minister.
The Hon. K.L. Vincent: Did the minister want me to repeat the final question?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS: Yes, please.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Could a process be put in place so that the police are aware—
The PRESIDENT: Order! The Hon. Ms Vincent is trying to ask a question: please allow her to do it in silence.
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Could the minister please advise whether a process could be put in place for my constituent so that he is not subject to further police investigation, or interrogation I suppose, while he is driving lawfully, that is, that police are aware that his appearance is different due to his disability and that therefore they do not need to stop him.
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS: I thank the Hon. Ms Vincent for accommodating the repeat of the last part of the question. Not having the detail of your particular constituent’s inquiry regarding reasons why the police have regularly pulled him over, it is difficult for me to comment with authority, other than to say that it is of course the government’s expectation that people are pulled over in accordance with the law and meet the relevant criteria for police to pull someone over in the first place.
On the basis of the information, albeit in the brief context that the Hon. Ms Vincent has referred to, of course it would be concerning if police were pulling someone over simply because they were disabled or had an appearance of being disabled. I suspect there would be more to it than that, of course. There is a range of reasons why it would be reasonable for police to pull someone over on the basis of their appearance, under certain circumstances, but of course there would be other circumstances where that would not be appropriate.
If the Hon. Ms Vincent is comfortable to pass on those details of the particular constituent’s concern to my office—apparently they have already been in contact with my office so I’m more than happy to chase that up personally and seek a briefing on it and make sure that the constituent receives an appropriate response.