QUESTION: Personal Mobility Devices

During Question Time Mark asked the Treasurer, representing the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, a question about personal mobility devices.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Every day that I come into the city, I can be sure to see a range of electric personal mobility devices (PMDs). These include electric scooters and electric skateboards. Most are being ridden on footpaths and shared-use paths, such as the Mike Turtur Bikeway, which is the route that I cycle into parliament most days.

On 12 May last year, I asked a question about any government plans to regulate the use of privately owned e-scooters. These are different from the commercial e-scooters that are available for hire for short trips under trials currently underway in Adelaide and along the coastal path. By way of an answer, on 30 June last year, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure advised that the National Transport Commission was conducting a review into the use of personal mobility devices, generally, and that this would inform the government's plans for PMDs. I understand that draft legislation is intended to be delivered to transport ministers by the National Transport Commission by May this year to legalise the use of PMDs on public infrastructure.

In the nine months since I last asked about this, the rise in popularity of privately owned scooters has continued unabated. For example, Scooter Hut on Marion Road has a range of almost 30 models of e-scooters that can be bought, not to mention the hoverboards and other personal devices. I also note that in other jurisdictions private electric scooter usage has been successfully regulated. These include New Zealand, Canada, Germany, France, South Korea and Austria. In South Australia they remain illegal, with the government website pointing out all the fines that riders will be subjected to if they use a private rather than a commercial electric scooter.

My questions of the minister are:

1. Will the proposed legislative reforms in South Australia include the legalisation of privately owned PMDs, such as e-scooters, or will it be limited to commercial devices?

2. If not, how does the government propose to manage the hundreds if not thousands of these privately owned devices already in use in South Australia?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): I will take the member's question on notice and bring back a reply.

On March 2 2021 the following answer was provided:

The Hon Rob Lucas MLC: "The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport has advised that:

An electric personal transporter is terminology used in the relevant South Australian legislation to refer to a broad range of Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs), including e-scooters, e-skateboards, and other light-weight motorised devices.

In order to operate legally in South Australia, use of e-scooters is currently approved under limited trial conditions, by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport under section 161A of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (driving certain light vehicles subject to Ministerial approval).

While e-scooters are treated as light vehicles, they are exempt from the requirement to be registered under the Motor Vehicles Act 1959. Consequently, they are not covered by compulsory third-party insurance. A policy of public liability insurance indemnifying the owner and any authorised rider, in an amount of at least $20 million in relation to death or bodily injury, must be in force. The current e-scooter trials have been made possible through partnerships between local councils and council-approved fleet operators. Fleet operators have previously demonstrated to both the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) and local council the ability to adhere to the strict conditions of use under trial for example by placing speed-Iimiting firmware onto the devices to ensure they cannot exceed 15 km/h, and by holding a policy of public liability insurance in an amount of at least $20 million. DIT cannot be certain that private users of e-scooter devices can adhere to the same conditions as set under the current council run trials. Therefore, the use of privately owned e-scooters on public road infrastructure is not permitted under the current trial arrangements.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) published a Decision Regulatory Impact Statement in December 2020 which proposed a nationally agreed framework for the safe use of PMDs such as e-scooters. The goal of this framework is to provide a nationally consistent approach under the Australian Road Rules to assist in the regulation of these devices to enable safe mobility for all road users.

The outcome of the proposed NTC regulatory framework, together with the trials that have been initiated in South Australia, will be used to inform future regulatory development for the use of PMDs, including e-scooters. This includes investigating options to enable greater use of these devices for commercial fleet and/or personal use.

With respect to people allegedly using unapproved PMDs on the South Australian road network and public infrastructure, riding a non-trial approved e-scooter or other personal mobility devices on public infrastructure in South Australia is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1961. Riders may be issued a fine of $381 for driving a vehicle without Ministerial approval. Riders may also be fined $1, 314 for driving an unregistered and uninsured motor vehicle.

DIT has worked with Consumer and Business Services to communicate information directly to retailers to ensure that consumers are aware of the current rules that privately owned PMDs are currently not permitted to be used on public infrastructure."