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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2661 ..

MS HORODNY (continuing):

to put a motion calling on the Government to implement a series of specific actions about truck parking, but the Government adjourned the debate. We are also still waiting to see the Government's promised amendments to the Motor Traffic Act to enforce its new rules. The Greens are not going to wait any longer for action by the Government. This Bill represents a part of our package that can be initiated by us through the Assembly. Its implications could, however, be far reaching in terms of resolving the conflicts over truck parking in the suburbs.

At present the Noise Control Act specifically excludes noise from motor vehicles. The Act explicitly excludes it. I understand that this is because the Motor Traffic Act covers noisy vehicles while they are being driven on the street. However, there is a gap, in that motor vehicles on private land are not specifically covered under either Act. One of the major problems with trucks being parked in the suburbs is that the trucks can come and go at all hours of the night and day. There is a potential disturbance to neighbours each time this occurs, and obviously this can be worse at night or in the early morning when neighbours are trying to sleep. The Noise Control Act recognises this fact for other sources of noise by defining excessive noise as noise that exceeds background levels between the hours of 10.00 pm and 7.00 am. Between 7.00 am and 10.00 pm noise is allowed to be up to five decibels higher than background levels. In our original proposal we suggested that trucks could be allowed to operate from 6.00 am, but our community consultation on this issue demonstrated to us that this time was still too early and inconsistent with the Noise Control Act. We are therefore quite happy to modify our original proposal to take this into account.

What is quite wrong about the Noise Control Act as it stands is that noise from stationary sources and noise from vehicles are treated quite differently. Currently, a person is not allowed to operate a loud piece of machinery like a motor mower or building equipment before 7.00 am, yet they could have a loud truck idling in the driveway next to the neighbour's bedroom window for as long as they like and at any time of the day or night. This is very unfair and very inequitable. This Bill amends the Noise Control Act by ensuring that it covers motor vehicles that are entering or leaving, or are stationary on, private land. It also ensures that noise direction notices can be issued to truck drivers and owners and that these people can be fined for non-compliance with an order. These amendments will give environment protection inspectors the power to direct truck operators to stop excessive idling and will put pressure on truck operators to act with more consideration for their neighbours when they park their trucks.

The measurement of noise levels is a technical subject, so at this time it is difficult to go into great detail about when a particular truck would be breaching the rules in the Act regarding excessive noise. In general, however, a car or small truck pulling into or out of a driveway is unlikely to affect the normal background noise levels. The measurement of background noise levels is based on noise levels over 90 per cent of a specified time, so it allows for short-term peaks in noise levels. However, a truck that sits idling in a driveway for more than a couple of minutes before 7.00 am is almost certain to generate noise above background levels as currently measured.

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