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In April this year, Mr Humphries identified to concerned residents a means through which the excessive number of exemptions being granted could be controlled. My understanding is that he actually suggested that the law could be relaxed; that is, that the acceptable noise level should be raised from five decibels above background to 10 decibels. One could ask why Mr Brereton did not think of doing the same thing in New South Wales. He could have made all those people living around the airport feel much happier by changing the level of background noise. Then, no doubt, they would all have been happier and the problems would have been resolved. I am sure that that would mollify the people living under the flight path. So, even where people are suffering frayed nerves, we can point out to them that the noise level is only a fraction above what is allowable or is within an acceptable level. All we have to do is change the level.
Mr Speaker, we set a noise level in this Assembly because we believed that it was an appropriate noise level, because we believed that it would be an appropriate standard for the ACT. I put it to Mr Humphries and Mr Stefaniak that a more intelligent approach may be to carry out that long awaited environmental assessment and to follow up with some action that allows residents in the ACT and surrounding areas to live without constant noise pollution and for motor racing sports people to engage in their sport in such a way that the sport complies with noise control legislation.
I emphasise that I am not suggesting that this sport should not proceed. Furthermore, I emphasise that I fully support the driver training area in Sutton Park. In fact, I did a four-week driver training course myself at Sutton Park driver training area in about 1986. I support the driver training facilities and I support motor racing activities, but not in areas where they affect residents' homes and not when the sport relies totally on obtaining so many exemptions from the law that it makes the law unworkable, that it makes the law an ass. It is well and truly time for the ACT to come to grips with this problem.
We know that there have been some ugly and irresponsible responses to residents who have complained. I understand that most members would be aware of those. I can see only discontent and emotional flare-ups if the Government continues to sit on its hands or, worse still, to exacerbate the problem. It appears that a new site has to be found and the activities relocated so that a peaceful and workable solution can be found. Recently, Mr Humphries wagged his environmental finger at New South Wales over its smoke pollution of the ACT. I wonder how the New South Wales Government would feel about the ACT breaking its obligations under the intergovernmental agreement on the environment if the ACT forced its pollution onto the people of New South Wales.
I should like to indicate that, if there is an increase in the number of exemptions granted under section 16 - in fact, I think there are too many - I will not hesitate to give drafting instructions to Parliamentary Counsel for a change to the exemption section of that Act, so that one of a series of things could happen. First of all, we could just say that this Assembly was not going to allow any exemptions at all. I think that would be too extreme; there are times when occasional exemptions ought to be allowed, but not a series of consistent exemptions that are for exactly the same thing. An occasional exemption for fireworks, for example, I think, is an appropriate use. That is the first possibility.