Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 2 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 552..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
The new dumping offences do not alter the current offence provisions for small-scale littering such as the dropping of a wrapper or cigarette butt. The new offences are intended to deal with the dumping of things like waste soil, builders rubble, old appliances and whitegoods. Proposed penalties are a maximum of $10,000 or a year's imprisonment for individuals and a maximum penalty of $50,000 for corporations. A new on-the-spot fine of $1,000 for dumping will be introduced.
The bill expands matters contained in the notices issued to persons who have littered. Notices presently require a person who has littered to remove or dispose of that litter. The bill now requires that person to also undertake restorative actions as a consequence of the littering. Provision has been specifically included for cases where the act of littering causes damage to a public place. A prime example would be a trailer load of rubble dumped in bushland, killing the grass or plants on which it has been dumped. The amendment is also reflected in section 22 of the Litter Act, which will permit the territory to arrange for the restoration of damaged public land with a view to recouping that cost under section 23 from persons who have been served with a removal and restore notice but who have failed to act upon the notice—which unfortunately is not an uncommon occurrence as the legislation currently operates.
The bill streamlines the process under the Litter Act by which the territory can recover from perpetrators the costs of removal of illegally dumped waste and the restoration of public areas affected by illegal dumping. It will no longer be necessary for the territory to identify a culprit and serve them with a notice before removing their rubbish if it wishes to seek compensation from the dumper. Under the proposed amendments, the territory will in certain circumstances be able to promptly remove the rubbish but still pursue the reasonable costs of the removal and disposal of the rubbish as well as the restoration of site costs from guilty parties if they are identified.
Finally, the bill proposes to extend the current motor vehicle impounding provisions contained in division 2.3 of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act to include the impounding of motor vehicles for offences under the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 and the Litter Act 2004. These are the same provisions that allow the police to impound vehicles used in illegal street racing and burnouts; the procedures dealing with impounding motor vehicles remain the same. Appropriate provisions have already been included within the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act for the release of vehicles impounded.
Enforcement of these offences is difficult. We know that. However, we do need to ensure that people will think twice before they dump their waste in inappropriate and illegal places. They need to know that, should they be caught, there will be serious consequences for their actions.
I am aware that both the Liberal Party and the Greens have indicated that they will not be supporting the provisions in relation to the impounding of vehicles used in the dumping of significant amounts of waste in the way that the government proposes. I think it is interesting in the context of that that it will remain the case that a young hoon doing a wheel burn faces having his car impounded but a commercial operator dumping 20,000 tonnes or so of builders waste does not face the same possible penalty. There is an interesting standard being applied, most particularly by the