Member for Kiama Gareth Ward has moved to introduce a Private Members Bill to create an offence of deliberately and recklessly driving through flood waters.

A copy of Mr Ward’s speech will be published here and can be viewed here.

Under the proposal, any revenue collected would go back to the State Emergency Services.

“Every year, we continue to hear the pleas of emergency services and political leaders. If it’s flooded, forget it. But with flood events becoming more frequent, we continue to see people risk their own lives and the lives of volunteer emergency service personnel by driving through flood waters,” Mr Ward said.

“This bill is as much about saving lives as it is recognising the contribution of volunteer resecures who put their own lives at risk when rescuing people who should have just turned around.

“From the US to Japan, plenty of countries charge people for costs involved in their own rescue. Some jurisdictions seek full cost recovery. That’s not what this bill proposes.

“I hope no fines are issued. But I do hope that lives are saved. This bill won’t capture people who unwittingly get caught. But this bill is about dealing with unacceptable risk-taking behaviours.

“People wouldn’t drive into a bushfire. Why on earth do people think its ok to drive into flood waters when you don’t know the depth or velocity, particularly at night.

Dr Kyra Hamilton from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute in Queensland has said that even driving a vehicle through 15 cm of water can cause a vehicle to become unstable.

Royal Lifesaving report that between 2004/5 and 2014/15, 159 drowning deaths were known to have involved flooding across Australia and over half of these resulted from driving through floodwaters.

“When Members of Parliament proudly parade their support for our SES at various community events, I hope they can also say they backed this bill which will remind people of the dangers of flood waters and protect emergency services volunteers and workers,” Mr Ward concluded.