Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 3057 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
issued in the first place was that the matter was before the AAT, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. I understand that President Curtis, the president of the AAT in the ACT, was dealing with this matter. I suppose that he will have to come back to us and tell us that he did not have the power to read this report and indicate that changes could be made; because my understanding is that he would have had that power, although I have not looked into that closely enough.
The other thing that is very interesting about this is that once this legislation passes there will be three ways of determining occupancy. First of all, there will be the Building Code of Australia, which sets out its ways of determining occupancy. Then there will be liquor licensing, which determines occupancy loadings as well. Then there will be the fire chief. You have just spent a fortune on a red tape task force to break down this whole notion of having a series of different people making different decisions and licences having to be granted by a series of different operators. This is a matter of grave concern.
There is a series of questions that I have about this legislation and that I feel are not adequately dealt with. It was first indicated to us late last week that you would be tabling legislation along these lines. We have had the legislation now for basically two days, at a time when other significant matters are being debated by the Assembly. We have had to try to wrestle with this legislation. I believe that I have not had the opportunity to do it justice. I have gone through it and have spoken to a couple of tavern owners and to the AHA, but that is the full extent that I have been able to achieve. I cannot help thinking that it is a knee-jerk reaction.
It is quite clear that, the Opposition having indicated that they will not be opposing it and the Government having put it up, my vote was not going to make any difference in the first place. I do have real questions about it. But, in spite of those, we probably have very little choice but to follow the precautionary principle. But there is that series of questions that you ought to answer. Over the next few months you should revisit this legislation, see whether it is appropriate, perhaps review all the legislation in this area, to check for its red tape implications - if I can call them that - and determine what is safe and what is not safe.
The reason why I decided that I would allow it to proceed, and the reason why I would support it, is that in this case the power is not given to bureaucrats. The legislation is framed in such a way that the power to make a decision is with a magistrate. I know that the magistrates in the ACT will not take lightly applications of this kind that could have a major impact on business. I would urge them to not take them lightly.
I appreciate that in the vast majority of cases the new amendment would also allow the opposite case to be put. Even where somebody is not available for the opposite case to be put, the matter can then be dealt with very rapidly because it will be effectively an interim injunction - I guess we could call it - or an interim report. There are those issues that need to be answered. This legislation will need to be reviewed in whole as quickly as possible. It is with those reservations that I give my support.