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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2488 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

In deciding to support this Bill, Mr Speaker, we have considered the effects that it may have on the business community, particularly the small business community, by restricting this form of advertising. However, other methods of handbill distribution, such as letterbox drops, will still be available, and we believe that the benefits that this Bill proposes far outweigh the drawbacks.

I foreshadow that the Government is proposing four amendments to the Bill as presented. The amendments do not change the intent of the Bill; they simply clarify its application. We believe that they will improve our ability to enforce the proposed offences. The amendments will restrict the application of the offence to public places only; amend the definition of a "public place" in the principal Act to pick up areas such as off-street parking; omit the qualification that a personal message to the vehicle owner be handwritten; and include a presumption that material is unsolicited unless proven otherwise.

Mr Speaker, the Bill complements other government initiatives aimed at reducing the litter problem, such as our Adopt a Road program, our support for the Clean Up Australia program and the litter reduction strategy which I announced in September. We also plan to do a more comprehensive review of the Litter Act down the track. That process will consider the option of widening this offence to include the beneficiary of such advertising as well as the person placing it. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the Government supports this private members Bill, subject to the amendments that I will be moving later.

MR HARGREAVES (4.29): I rise actually to congratulate Mr Moore for winning the legislation race. In my view, this piece of legislation, compared with the blues and bunfights we have had over the last couple of days, is quite insignificant, and really I wonder why we are doing it. It is a minor issue. I would have thought that Mr Moore would be far more concerned with things to do with his ministerial portfolio. He has a hell of a lot more things to worry about in this town than sticking something in somebody's letterbox or on the windscreen of a car.

I take the point that it is often a nuisance when you get to your car and you find that some idiot has put it on the left-hand side; and you turn your windscreen wiper on, stick your hand out, and you still cannot grab it. I know that that is really irritating. I know that it is irritating to come along to a car park and see a whole stack of stuff sitting there on the ground. But it is a form of expression. It is an opportunity for some people to actually make a statement. I do not like the idea of people putting on cars advertisements for fast food and free photography. However, I have often gone to my car in a car park and have found messages from the Boy Scouts, some youth group or something like that, advertising something that they are going to be doing. Sometimes I have treated it like junk mail and sometimes I have not. Sometimes I have been grateful for it.

Those of us who have done it very recently - I know that Mr Smyth has gone around, knocked on a stack of doors and stuck things in people's letterboxes over the period of the last election campaign - would know just how difficult it is to get people out there to actually shove things into letterboxes. A lot of these groups, like the scouts, just do not have enough troops to do that sort of stuff, and I think this actually stands in their way.

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