None . . Page.. 130 ..
The second possibility for drafting instructions would be to ensure that any exemptions go through the Assembly as a whole or through an Assembly committee. I make it very clear to the Government that I will have no hesitation in drafting that sort of change to the legislation if these exemptions continue to operate in the way they have, and certainly in the way Mr Stefaniak proposes. It is simply unacceptable.
I believe that there is a solution to this problem. We have not yet found it. But the solution does not lie in doing either of the two things we have heard from the Government. The solution does not lie in granting more exemptions - Mr Wood was working on how to reduce the number of exemptions - and it certainly does not lie in lowering our noise pollution standards. To say that we should set our standards according to New South Wales, or even according to an Australian standard is to say that we will go to the lowest common denominator. In the ACT we are proud of our environmental standards. There is still room for us in many ways to seek improvement, but we certainly would not be reducing our environmental standards. We have set our environmental standards and we expect sport to find ways to meet them. That is what they have to do. That is the challenge.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning) (12.09): Mr Speaker, this is, as Mr Moore has indicated, a complex issue, and I hope that his intention in raising the matter today is to assist in bringing the parties together so that we can sort the matter out. I must say that I do not see the issue entirely in black-and-white terms. There is, on the one hand, a quite legitimate interest by people affected by noise in areas surrounding existing motor sport venues, whether they live in New South Wales or the ACT. As Mr Moore indicated, we have an obligation to consider ways in which we can reduce the impact of noise where it reaches unacceptably high levels. There is also, however, an obligation on the Government to facilitate wherever possible the conduct of legitimate activities in the ACT, and motor sport is unquestionably one of those activities. At the moment, the only conceivable place where that can occur is at Sutton Park and Fairbairn Park, and to make a speedy decision to change the situation dramatically will certainly generate some kind of response from the particular sports body but will not necessarily help them make any decisions about a viable long-term venue for motor sport in the ACT. With respect, I think it would also be a knee-jerk reaction.
The previous Government was unable to find any solution to this matter over a fairly long period, and I think it is unreasonable to expect that we can find one instantly. But I do say that we are committed to working for a solution that, if at all possible, meets the concerns of both residents and motor sport enthusiasts. We are committed towards effective environmental protection across all sectors of the environment, not just in respect of noise. Indeed, our policy made it quite clear that we will “constantly review all legislation relating to the amenity of residents, including noise pollution laws relating to animals and vehicles”. One example of how we are moving to enhance residential amenity in relation to noise is that we will be undertaking consultation with interest groups on proposed amendments to the Animal Nuisance Control Act to ensure more effective control over animal noise. We believe that this is an area, as the ACT grows larger and more dense and possibly moves closer to its borders, that we need to keep under constant review.