Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 2836 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
The advice of the Government Solicitor's Office is that the registrar, the Liquor Licensing Board and the Fire Commissioner lack legal power to require the risk to public safety to be reduced, pending finalisation of the appeal proceedings, which have been adjourned to mid-February.
The issue is a quite different one to the question of how the loading is determined. The question is: Once the loading is determined, how can it be applied if it is different from the present loading? At the present time, legislation is inadequate in respect of allowing a different loading to be determined to deal with an issue which emerges subsequent to a determination by the Fire Commissioner or by the Registrar of Liquor Licences. As a responsible government, we are not prepared to wait until the determination of that appeal, in the hope that there will not be a tragedy. In any case, the same grave risk may exist in relation to a small number of other premises. It is thus appropriate, indeed imperative, that these discretionary powers be immediately available to protect the public safety.
I should mention that there are precedents for what this Bill proposes to do. Analogous powers have been conferred on health inspectors, where they believe that there is an imminent risk to public safety from unhygienic food preparation; and on the Building Controller, to deal with circumstances where there are unacceptable levels of legionella bacteria in buildings. Our advice is that there are very few premises where the emergency discretionary power is likely to be invoked. We do not believe that there will be a widespread impact on business generally. The adverse impact of a notice for a particular business must be weighed against the serious risk to public safety of allowing a fire or other hazard to persist. This Government will not compromise on that matter.
I commend this Bill to the Assembly. In view of the emergency nature of the proposal, I will seek leave to have it brought on for debate as a matter of urgency, with a view to passage this session. I have arranged for a briefing to be provided in relation to this to members of the Opposition and the crossbenches, and I understand that they are agreeable to that course of action being taken.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitecross) adjourned.
Clauses 1 to 3
Debate resumed from 7 December 1995.
MR MOORE (10.36): I adjourned the debate on these clauses with the intention that I would have more time to consider the amendments that had been circulated by the Greens, the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. I have now had the time to do that. I believe that it is appropriate that we proceed with the detail stage of the Bill.
Clauses agreed to.