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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 2835..


Tuesday, 12 December 1995

_________________________

MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

FIRE BRIGADE (AMENDMENT) BILL 1995

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Services) (10.31): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to present the Fire Brigade (Amendment) Bill 1995.

Leave granted.

MR HUMPHRIES: I present the Fire Brigade (Amendment) Bill 1995.

Title read by Clerk.

MR HUMPHRIES: I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

I also present the explanatory memorandum to the Bill. The Bill proposes amendments to the Fire Brigade Act to allow the chief officer to apply to a magistrate for a notice requiring premises to be closed, specifying the number of persons that may be allowed in the premises, or specifying work to be carried out. The basis for the exercise of the magistrate's discretion is a belief that compliance with the notice is necessary to eliminate a risk to public safety from fire or other hazard or to the persons using the premises.

The Bill requires the chief officer to provide appropriate written notification of the notice to the owner and/or occupier of the premises. There is a right of appeal to the Supreme Court, but the validity of the magistrate's order is not affected pending the outcome of any appeal. The Bill also includes provisions dealing with a failure to comply with a notice. Work carried out in compliance with an improvement notice is to be undertaken at the expense of the occupier.

The catalyst for the Bill was a fire engineering report commissioned from the CSIRO in relation to premises the subject of an appeal, currently before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, against an occupancy loading determined by the Registrar of Liquor Licences. The report, which was prepared by an expert generally acknowledged to be pre-eminent in Australia, concluded that the occupancy loadings that had been determined by the registrar were greatly excessive from a fire engineering-safety point of view. This means that, if a fire were to break out in the premises when it is at the determined capacity, there is an unacceptable risk of people being burnt to death or being seriously injured.


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