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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 May 1995) . . Page.. 373 ..


One area which people constantly complain to me about and in respect of which I think we can try to make some improvement - certainly the previous Government did not see a need for improvement - is noise from parties and the like late at night when it is very difficult to get police or noise inspectors to go and investigate. Many people complain to me about neighbours having incredibly loud parties. I have been in areas where those things are a problem. They certainly can cause lack of sleep. There are probably a number of areas we can improve on in that respect. Noise is a contentious issue, but we have to be mindful of people's rights to conduct legitimate activity and we have to be mindful that some people perhaps want to complain without really considering all the relevant factors. I would ask members to bear that in mind.

MR MOORE (11.55), in reply: Mr Speaker, I think that Mr Stefaniak in particular has raised a number of issues that need to be dealt with. The first one is that he says that we need to be reasonable about noise pollution. Indeed, Mr Speaker, that is exactly what the legislation was designed for and that is what it was intended to do. When Mr Wood introduced that legislation, the standards were set as reasonable standards. Part of that reasonableness was to allow exemptions for such things as the example that Mr Stefaniak drew attention to - a one-off concert at EPIC. Mr Speaker, I am sure that Mr Stefaniak was not the only one who had complaints about the volume of noise at that particular concert. It was a very loud concert that drew a whole range of complaints. Certainly, my phone was running hot that night with calls from people, particularly around Watson and Downer, complaining about the level of noise. I wondered whether we had been reasonable in allowing the sort of output that we had from that concert.

Mr Stefaniak raised the issue of tourist dollars. Yes, there is the issue of tourist dollars from such concerts to be weighed against how we treat noise in this city. But the legislation set reasonable standards that this community believes are appropriate, and those standards are ones that we ought to ensure are followed. A few odd exemptions make reasonable sense. Seventy exemptions for the same thing do not. Even 17 exemptions so far this year or a total of over 30 for a full year, although an improvement, is still not a reasonable number of exemptions. We have not got the legislation right if we are requiring that many exemptions, or we need to ensure that people can meet the standard that this community and this Assembly set.

One way of dealing with it, of course, is to change our standards, to lower our noise pollution standards to the New South Wales level. The last time I spoke on this matter I said that that would be similar to the Federal Government lowering the noise pollution standards for the Sydney Airport and saying, “Okay, now you do not have a problem, because we have lowered the standards. The noise is within the standard we have set, so nobody is going to complain about it”. That is the same logic as you are talking about. In this community, in the ACT, we have set a standard that is higher than that in New South Wales and probably higher than standards for the rest of Australia. That is something that I am proud of being a part of. We have also been reasonable in allowing exemptions. I know that Mr Wood was working to reduce the number of exemptions that he as Minister had given over the last three years, and I hope that Mr Humphries also will continue to work to reduce the number of exemptions that are given under the legislation.


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