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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 17 March 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1211 ..


MR PRATT: The authorisation for these utilities is covered under the Utilities Bill 2000 and, as this amendment bill seeks to amend that authority to include street lighting and stormwater drainage infrastructures to provide for the same maintenance provisions in respect of private land and other land management arrangements, we will of course be supporting this amendment bill.

The rationale for this amendment bill is understood and agreed. These two utilities deserve the same priority for management as other essential utilities and other essential services. The inappropriate blocking of essential utilities on private land does need to be addressed—for example, the erection of garden sheds that may block stormwater drainage or untended trees on private land that may impede street lighting.

The amendment bill allows for pretty substantive works and potentially quite disruptive works to be carried out on private land. That is as I see it anyway, on examining the bill. However, it appears that subdivisions 14.2.1 and 14.2.2 provide the same full protections to land owners in terms of full restoration of the condition of the property and efforts to minimise disruptions, compensation where restorations cannot be fully completed and the provision of reasonable notice in accordance with the principles governing the existing legislation for gas, electricity, water and sewerage.

It is essentially this aspect of protection of landowners that we will continue to monitor closely. We want to make sure that that is the case. As this bill bites and these new provisions go into play, we want to make sure that there are no disruptions. At this juncture it looks as if the legislation pretty much covers all that. Let us see how things proceed. In that respect, we will support the bill.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.23): This bill appears to be fairly mechanistic, in order to provide clear and consistent measures to allow access to residential premises to install, repair and maintain stormwater and street lighting infrastructure. The provisions mirror current requirements in the ACT under the Utilities Act 2000, which relate to access for gas, water, sewerage and electricity infrastructure. The core issue is for legitimate access to utilities placed on private land. It continues the normal practice of giving notice to residents and ensuring that such infrastructure work is undertaken in a manner that minimises disruption.

I note that these amendments do not arise out of the broader utilities regulation review that is currently under way and I do wonder why they could not have waited and been considered in that broader context. I hope that this is as straightforward as it appears.

We continue to look forward to the release of the second consultation paper arising from the utilities regulation review so that we have time to consider some of the bigger issues and concerns about the operations of our utilities. I will support these amendments.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.24), in reply: I close the debate, Mr Speaker. The street lighting and stormwater networks are important pieces of infrastructure that provide vital services to the community.


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