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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 14 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 5191..


MRS DUNNE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, what options did the government consider for the continued sale and use of consumer fireworks in the ACT?

MS GALLAGHER: As Mrs Dunne would know from being in this place, we have over the years seriously tightened up our legislation around the regulation of dangerous substances. In fact, I did a large part of that work. Minister Barr also then tightened up the regulations that I had tightened up.

The government reached the view that there was no further tightening that could happen under the regulatory approach that would deal with the issues that the community was concerned about. They related essentially to the illegal use of fireworks, because if everyone actually abided by the regulations, as the legislation stood, there would have been no problem. If people used the fireworks that were allowed under the regulations, if they used the fireworks within the time they were allowed to be used and on the days they were allowed to be used, I think the community would have been able to tolerate the continued use of fireworks. But that was not what was happening. The issues for animals, the issues for their illegal use, the issues for safety, residents' safety, were all at the forefront of the government's mind.

Having looked at this, and particularly from a health point of view, every year, when I inquired every day what injuries were presented to the Canberra Hospital or Calvary hospital through the fireworks season, there were always injuries, but thankfully they were always minor. The government got to this point: at what time do you draw the line and say, "The behaviour that's going on in the community with the illegal use of fireworks is no longer acceptable; it's putting other residents' lives at risk and, in terms of lives and safety, there are other additional concerns in the community that we need to respond to?"That is the decision. It is difficult for all of us, as many of us have enjoyed fireworks over many years. But that is the reality of the world we live in today, and that is why the government has moved to ban them.

MR COE: Supplementary?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Coe.

MR COE: I ask the minister: what options did the community put forward and what consideration did the government give to these options?

MS GALLAGHER: Through the history of this debate, which, from my memory, goes back to 2001-it could have been 2002, when a legal affairs inquiry with, it might have been, Bill Stefaniak, Kerrie Tucker and John Hargreaves looked at this issue-a variety of issues have been canvassed around the times of use, the types of fireworks that are used, the days they can be used and various options within that framework. We have looked at whether community use is something that could be considered-that is, the location where fireworks can be used and whether it could occur on community land as opposed to private residences. All of those options have been looked at.


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