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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 September 2005) . . Page.. 3396 ..

Clauses 8 to 14, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Clause 15.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs, and Acting Minister for Education and Training) (5.17): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to move amendments Nos 1 and 2 circulated in my name together.

Leave granted.

MR STANHOPE: I move amendments Nos 1 and 2 circulated in my name [see schedule 4 at page 3418] and I table a supplementary explanatory statement to the amendments.

Contributors to the in-principle stage of the debate raised the issue of strict liability. The government proposes that the use of strict liability offences in the Tree Protection Bill 2005 be amended in light of the concerns raised by the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs and to comply with the Criminal Code 2002. These amendments apply to the use of strict liability in relation to the offences of damaging a protected tree and undertaking prohibited groundwork. The appropriate use of strict liability offences is a valuable mechanism to discourage reckless behaviour and needless loss by forcing potential defendants to take every possible precaution.

The Criminal Code provides for the use of strict liability where a defendant can reasonably be expected, because of his or her professional involvement, to know what the requirements of the law are. The intent of these amendments is to limit the application of strict liability to persons undertaking work as part of a business that deals with trees on a regular basis as it can be reasonably expected that these people should be aware of the protection status of a tree and whether the activity is likely to cause damage.

Examples of relevant activities provided in the bill are tree surgery, building, plumbing, landscaping, installation of irrigation, concreting, earthwork and horticulture. The amendments do not, of course, exempt general members of the community from these offences, but apply fault-based offences for those not involved in relevant business activity. That approach is consistent with the Pests Plants and Animals Act 2005.

For the bill to be effective, it is important that lessees, industry and the broader community are aware of their responsibilities under the legislation. The government will prepare a comprehensive communication strategy for the operation of the legislation to ensure that relevant information is readily available regarding the location of registered trees at areas declared as tree management precincts.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.20): The Liberal opposition will be supporting these two amendments and the suite of amendments that go with them in the course of the afternoon. As I said in the in-principle stage this morning, this is a significant concession on the part of the government that is warmly welcomed by the opposition.

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