Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2133..
MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister for Industrial Relations, Ms Gallagher. Minister, I will read from some of the letters published in the Canberra Times last week about the Queen's Birthday weekend. Tim Hardy of Florey thought that it was "the noisiest and longest lasting"in three decades. Alisa Hurrell of Kambah compared it with a world war. Anne Furnass, the president of the RSPCA, wrote on 13 June 2002:
It is time the ACT caught up with the states and banned fireworks.
Ms Furnass added that 230 Canberrans who contacted the RSPCA were "angry that our government is still refusing to deal with the situation in a constructive way". Minister, why have you failed to act in a constructive way to protect the community from, in Mr Furnass' words, "the louts who enjoy frightening people and their animals"?
MS GALLAGHER: I am the first to admit that this long weekend-all of us in this room will acknowledge-there were certainly some loud fireworks going off in the ACT and that certainly there were fireworks going off outside the times required under the permits that were issued, between the hours of 5 pm and 10 pm. I think there were issues this long weekend that we need to look at.
The government did outline its response to the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs inquiry into the Dangerous Goods Act under the previous minister. We outlined the changes that we were going to instigate through legislative reform of that act.
As members would be aware from previous questions answered in this house, those amendments to the act weren't ready in time to be debated and implemented for this June long weekend. What the government sought to do was implement the changes through the licences that are issued to the retailers and the permits that are issued to the people who want to purchase the fireworks.
The issue of where they could be used and the times they could be used was done through permits. The issue of what fireworks could be sold was done through WorkCover's classification of shopgood fireworks, to be done through the licence requirements.
A couple of weeks before the long weekend there was some legal action in the Supreme Court where one of the retailers was successful in getting an outcome which ensured that the retailers were able to sell fireworks that they were able to sell the previous year. We weren't able to restrict the loud, banging fireworks this year. But it is something that will be in place for next year, once the amendments to the Dangerous Goods Act are implemented.
MR STEFANIAK: I thank the minister for that answer. Minister, you mentioned some action you had taken for some breaches the previous year, and I thank you for that. What enforcement action has WorkCover taken against retailers or users of fireworks who broke the law over this long weekend?