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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 4033 ..

Fireworks industry

(Question No 301)

Ms Dundas asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 12 November 2002:

In relation to regulation of the fireworks industry and the answers to Questions on notice Nos 154(8) and 157(5) which indicate that it is not possible to accurately quantify the costs spent by the Director of Public Prosecutions on prosecutions against members of the ACT fireworks industry; and as the total cost of administrative costs, in litigation and prosecution could be running into the millions of dollars:

(1) Has the government any estimates of the amounts of taxpayer money spent in this area.

(2) In the interest of accountability, will the Government be informing the Assembly the cost of regulation and litigation of the fireworks industry.

Mr Stanhope: The answer to the member's question is as follows:

The Director of Public Prosecutions does not keep records that can quantify the costs of staff and other resources incurred in the prosecution of particular offences or kinds of offences as this would be more expensive to do than would be justified by the value of such information particularly as it would be based heavily on quite arbitrary allocations of costs.

No estimates have been made of the costs of conducting the prosecutions of defendants for alleged breaches of the Dangerous Goods Regulations.

These prosecutions are a relatively small proportion of the work of the Director of Public Prosecutions and his staff. Since 1 July 1997, the prosecution of 46 charges under this legislation have been completed and seven are still proceeding. The costs to the Director of Public Prosecutions would be much less than $line For the same period a total of 3,129 municipal charges (which includes Dangerous Goods legislation prosecutions) were prosecuted and all those prosecutions were managed by one senior prosecutor and one administrative assistant. The total salary of these staff for the whole of that period was less than $650,000. There would, of course, be other costs but these are difficult to quantify in a meaningful way.

In addition, costs are payable to successfully acquitted defendants, where these are ordered to be paid. They are separately quantified and to date have amounted to $90,500. Other claims, some dating back to decisions made in the first half of 2001, are awaiting completion of negotiations by the defendants.

The accountability of prosecutions is not assessed in financial terms because there is no yardstick by which to measure the value to the public interest of prosecutions against their cost.

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