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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 8 Hansard (14 August) . . Page.. 2852 ..


opportunity for a great education. I look forward to continuing to work with our school communities to ensure that this is achieved.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Planning and Development (Controlled Activities) Amendment Bill 2019

Mr Coe, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (10.06): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present the Planning and Development (Controlled Activities) Amendment Bill 2019 to the Assembly. The purpose of this bill is to improve the outcomes for communities in Canberra dealing with extreme squalid conditions. We are putting forth this legislation because of localised big problems that impact communities across Canberra. Whilst the problem is not widespread, the extreme squalid conditions we are discussing today are causing considerable distress to many Canberrans. My expectation is that we might be talking about a dozen or two properties in Canberra, but for these dozen or two properties many, many people are impacted.

Property owners have a responsibility to keep their leaseholds clean. By definition, in the legislation a leasehold is unclean only if more than 30 per cent of the undeveloped portions of the block that are clearly visible from the public domain are covered in items. Long grass and overgrown foliage do not constitute an unclean leasehold and are not included as part of the 30 per cent. This instead falls under the purview of emergency services as a potential fire hazard.

We are not changing the definition but simply putting forward legislation on how to enforce it. It is also important to note that we are not talking about a garage full of household possessions or a house full of knick-knacks; we are talking about front and back yards overflowing with junk, cats, dogs, rats, snakes, mosquitoes and much more.

Whilst the vast majority of people comply with their legal obligations, some property owners throughout Canberra fail to keep their leaseholds clean. Neighbours of these individuals have seen their quality of life deteriorate, and ratepayers end up footing the bill for the clean-up. It is unsafe and it is unfair on neighbours and other Canberrans that this behaviour continues despite controlled activity orders being put in place and rectification orders being issued.

Of course, mental health concerns are often at the heart of the problem. Consequently, there can be public health, animal welfare and environmental issues too. Whenever we discuss these issues there is a balancing act between property rights, mental health concerns and community obligations. We must also remember that whilst there are or


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