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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3128 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

However, this is not aimed at that. That is a job for others to determine. But I believe that a person whose profession it is to mount fireworks displays should be allowed to seek a permit, like any other person that seeks to carry on an activity. Of course, that permit can be refused; but, in considering whether or not such a person should have a permit, the same considerations should be taken into account as apply to other circumstances detailed in the Bill. So my amendments are aimed at allowing such a person to seek a permit, on the basis that such activity should not be totally prohibited.

MR HARGREAVES (6.01): Mr Speaker, I rise to indicate the Labor Party's support for Mr Kaine's amendments. This amendment Bill is a really good Bill. It actually takes the responsibility for the control of flames, in times of particular danger, out of the political arena and puts it into the hands of the experts, where it belongs. I think the support this Bill will receive here will show the confidence this Assembly has in the Chief Fire Control Officer and the Fire Commissioner.

Mr Speaker, the only hassle we have with the Bill is that it allows exemptions to be granted for such things as Carols by Candlelight and other types of open fires where it can be proven to those two officers that they do not pose a danger to life or property. To exclude a particular thing like fireworks is, in our view, in a sense, a denial of natural justice, because people do not have the opportunity to have their particular case evaluated by the experts. Mr Speaker, I am aware that the principal reason for the exclusion is to keep the cowboys out of the industry; to keep out of the industry the people who will pose, and who have a record of posing, a danger to this society. However, Mr Speaker, it seems to me also that the exclusion may very well keep out of the industry those people who are responsible, and it is a denial of justice.

I urge the Assembly to accept these amendments, with the proviso that, if other information comes to light which justifies an amendment reversing them, we give it due consideration at that time - for example, if there is consistency in the States about this particular thing or if it can be proven that the letting off of fireworks in times of extreme and total fire danger is, by the nature of the activity, a danger to life and property. So, Mr Speaker, I urge the Assembly strongly to support these amendments for the time being.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (6.04): Mr Speaker, the Government will only speak once, and briefly, on these amendments. The advice that I have received from the Fire Commissioner and the Chief Fire Control Officer is that there is an inherent danger in the use of fireworks which warrants an extra level of caution in their employment by the ACT; that, unlike other possible exemptions to the total fire ban provisions, the use of fireworks potentially involves the dispersal of flame, which can be a threat to the integrity of that total fire ban.

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