Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 3056 ..
MR WHITECROSS (continuing):
I might say, in conclusion, that the irony has not escaped members on this side of the house that last year Mrs Carnell was telling everybody here that the arrangements under the Liquor Act were too onerous; that more generous arrangements might be appropriate; and that it might be possible to cram some more people in. Now the Government, faced with the actual responsibility of protecting the safety of people, has in its possession fire hazard reports suggesting that, far from being too onerous, they may be too generous in some circumstances. We welcome this opportunity to provide the Fire Commissioner with the means that he needs to ensure that things are done in a safe way, without taking away from the capacity of the registrar under the Liquor Act to also have made those changes had he been in possession of that information when he made his original determination. We will be supporting the legislation.
MR MOORE (3.38): In rising to support this legislation, I have a number of reservations and a number of questions. First of all, the most significant question relates to the original report that motivated this legislation. The report from the CSIRO has on it a November date. It was very recent. By and large, we have a knee-jerk response brought into this house for rapid consideration. It is urgent legislation which is based almost on scare tactics and fear of what might happen. Significantly, it is based on a single report.
I am sure that there are always opinions as to the extent to which reports are accurate and the extent to which they can be debated. In fact, later this afternoon, we will be debating the Stein report. I am sure that there will be questions about it, in spite of the fact that the inquiry was conducted by a very prominent judge of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court. We have heard questions about some parts of that report. No matter what the report is, there are going to be questions about its accuracy. In spite of this, we see legislation brought before us.
In the first place, that legislation lacks the right of appeal. It is an issue that was raised with me and, no doubt, with other members by the AHA. I see that Mr Humphries has brought before us an amendment that has been developed over the last two days. But it does indicate that when we are dealing with urgent legislation - and I use the term "urgent legislation" in a broad sense rather than in the technical sense in which we use it in the standing orders - that urgent legislation does present a whole series of difficulties. The most important of those difficulties is that it is not available for public scrutiny. There are real questions that still have not been answered about that type of public scrutiny.
I gather that the reason that you put forward this legislation - and the reason that I am prepared to support it at this stage, with this amendment - is the precautionary principle; that is, that we are going to favour the safest way of handling this issue. But that is not to say that there are not some risks, because this legislation can put at risk a number of businesses in the ACT, particularly businesses about which this specific report was written. That raises an issue of the separation of powers. The reason that the report was