Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 2 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 550..
MR COE (continuing):
I would like to flag that the Assembly could enact the strictest laws with the most severe penalties for illegal dumping, but they would be meaningless if they were not enforced. Deterrence works only to the extent that those considering illegal dumping are sufficiently concerned that they might get caught so as not to perpetrate the dumping. I look forward to the government matching these tougher penalties with better enforcement to ensure that we can clean up public places and reduce the dumping of dangerous substances.
Despite our support for parts 1 through 4 of this bill, the opposition is not in favour of parts 5 and 6 of this bill. The opposition supports an amendment to remove parts 5 and 6 of the bill, the parts of the bill that would amend the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 to impound motor vehicles for offences under the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 and the Litter Act 2004.
Impounding motor vehicles in relation to these offences is so disconnected from the nature of the offence itself that it is disproportionate. I have noted comments in scrutiny report No 2 and I am also concerned that the seizure of property under these provisions occurs before the finding of any guilt. These measures are draconian and should not be passed by this Assembly.
It is out of all proportion to suggest that impounding someone's motor vehicle is a suitable response to illegal dumping. There are numerous motor vehicle offences, including some speeding and drink-driving offences, that do not attract the penalty of the impounding of a motor vehicle and yet are directly related to the use of a motor vehicle. In this case, the government asks us to support a measure that impounds someone's vehicle before it is even proved that they have committed the offence—an offence not directly related to the vehicle.
The opposition will not be supporting parts 5 and 6 of the bill but do support the sentiments.
MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (7.38): The Greens will be basically supporting the bill today, as dumping is an ongoing issue here in the ACT and measures which reduce the amount of rubbish being dumped in inappropriate areas like nature reserves and behind houses are to be commended. I used to work in Bruce; every day I went past the ever-growing illegal dumping in the area there and I am well aware of the problems. Waste dumping is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed by the government; however, I am not sure that the bill necessarily does that.
Given that this is an area which is very hard to police, raising the penalties may not help to deter actions. Perhaps we need to give more thought to how communities can help reduce dumping. We could start with more signs in key areas stating that dumping is illegal and what the penalties are. Recently I have noticed an increase in green waste dumping since Canberra Sand and Gravel has started charging a few dollars to take green waste.
I support the sections which require the dumper to restore any damage to the area caused by dumping and also those which allow for any restoration costs borne by the government to be recouped by adding to the dumping penalty.