Page 1589 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 2 June 2021

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Drones—delivery drone use

MR DAVIS: My question is to the Minister for Business and Better Regulation, and it relates to delivery drones in the ACT. Minister, I have received representations from a number of my constituents concerned about the use of delivery drones in the ACT. I understand that, prior to my election, there was an inquiry by the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Tourism that found that the “single biggest obstacle to community acceptance of drone delivery services” is noise pollution. Minister, what is the government doing to address community concerns related to delivery drones operating in the ACT?

MS CHEYNE: As the member may be aware, the commonwealth government has exclusive power to regulate airspace, and because drones—including those operated by Wing—are considered to be aircraft, the regulation is governed by a number of commonwealth agencies. I understand that, particularly when Wing was trialled down south, some Canberrans raised concerns around the processes for noise approval, and whether the processes under the commonwealth regulations on aircraft noise were followed. The advice that I have is that the commonwealth considers that Wing is compliant with all requirements for noise under those regulations. I know that Wing has recently updated the community—including, I believe, at Gungahlin Community Council—on the noise being much reduced for the aircraft or drones that they are looking to be using soon. If the member has a more specific query or recent query, I am happy to engage with officials and seek some further advice from the commonwealth.

MR DAVIS: Minister, what role, if any, does the ACT government have, specifically, to monitor and regulate drone delivery in the ACT?

MS CHEYNE: I refer the member to what I said in my first answer. Drones are governed by a number of commonwealth agencies. We absolutely are attuned to all aspects of drone delivery here in the ACT—both the challenges it presents but also the innovation opportunities it brings. I recall that those were canvassed during the inquiry that Mr Davis refers to.

We recognise that there might be some confusion as to who controls what, so we have urged the commonwealth—including recently in an inquiry that the federal parliament is undertaking—to take the lead on the establishment of a national framework addressing all aspects of drone regulation, including noise and including privacy. Given the commonwealth’s comprehensive regulatory powers in this area, we believe that a national approach is the only way forward. We do have a good relationship with the commonwealth in this space, but the commonwealth can approve drones not the ACT government.

MR BRADDOCK: I have a supplementary question. Minister, what are the ACT government’s plans for the future of drone delivery in the ACT, and will it be consulting with the community about those plans?

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