Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2848 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
advised all members that it believes the cost to its members will be between $8,000 and $15,000. The Motor Trades Association, on behalf of petrol retailers, inform me that neither the oil companies nor tobacco manufacturers would assist their members with refitting costs.
It is interesting, however, that the Heart Foundation submits quite categorically that the tobacco manufacturers will subsidise the costs of refitting or perhaps even pay the whole cost. I am advised by the Heart Foundation that this has certainly been their experience in relation to requirements pursuant to legislative change in relation to the marketing of tobacco where some refitting or rejigging of premises has been required. It has been suggested to me that the phase-in period for this necessary refitting, particularly for some of the small retailers of tobacco might be extended from six months to 12 months to allow them to spread the cost over a longer period, assuming, as they insist, that they will not be subsidised by the tobacco manufacturers at all in relation to the necessary refitting.
It is relevant that we make some comment on the scrutiny of Bills committee report on this legislation. The committee, in its report No. 6 of 1999, made extensive adverse comments about the provisions in relation to personal liberties. Some of the committee's concerns will be addressed by the Minister in his amendments. From the rather cursory look that we have had at the amendments to date, others appear not to have been addressed.
The Government states in proposed new section 12GA that the powers conferred on an authorised officer who is a police officer are additional to the powers the officer may exercise as a police officer. In other words, under the Bill an authorised officer's powers - and authorised officers are public servants without any particular skills or training in police work - are greater than the powers of a police officer.
The Bill provides for the appointment as authorised officers of public servants employed for the purpose, public health officers, the Registrar and Deputy Registrar of Tobacco and police officers. Authorised officers will have wide powers of search and powers to question persons. The scrutiny of Bills committee has made several adverse comments in relation to the exercise of these powers by authorised officers who are not police officers. If an authorised officer enters any premises for the purposes of the Bill, he or she may, among other things, require any person on the premises to do any or all of the following: Make available anything on the premises; provide information or answer questions; give their name and address.
The Minister and his department have said that these powers are the same as those in other public health legislation. I have been unable to confirm that. The Food Act does allow inspectors to enter premises but limits the entry, except by search warrant, to reasonable hours, defined as when the premises are open for business. Such a limiting definition is missing from this Bill.
An authorised officer may stop, question and search a person in a public place. The authorised officer may also seize or copy anything in the person's possession. The safeguards for the public are as follows: Firstly, the authorised officer must have reasonable grounds for believing that the person can provide evidence about the