Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 626 ..
MR CORNWELL (continuing):
The opposition has no objections to this legislation, Mr Speaker. I am a little concerned. I understand that the amendments to the bill which the government will shortly be moving, which, I hasten to add, we have no objection to, were apparently not flagged at the administration and procedures meeting held earlier this week. I just mention that to the minister. The opposition will be supporting the legislation.
MS DUNDAS (12.22): The Hawkers Bill removes a range of unnecessary restrictions placed on mobile street sellers. Considering that the original Act was established in 1936, it is not a surprise that some of its provisions are antiquated. I am in favour of removing the good character requirements, except where they are strictly necessary. I have to wonder whether every ACT government bureaucrat would be satisfied that I am of good character. I would rather they were not given the opportunity to decide.
The removal of the minimum age requirement is a change I naturally support. It would be unfortunate to stifle the enterprising spirit of a young person with the idea of making money from street selling through unnecessary legislative restrictions. I support the retention of the restriction of hawking within 180 metres of a shop. I believe a shop owner would be justifiably upset if a hawker were able to sell the same goods for a cheaper price by occupying public space rent-free.
I am less convinced of the need to retain a licensing system for hawkers, particularly as this continues an administrative burden on the ACT government. However, that is not a major flaw and I am sure the ACT government is well up to maintaining it. I note that the government will be moving some amendments, which are sensible. I will be supporting the amendments and the bill.
MRS CROSS (12.23): As other members have mentioned, this bill addresses some administrative compliance with the national competition policy. Indeed, Minister Wood, in the tabled presentation speech, refers to the fact that the Department of Urban Services commissioned the Allen Consulting Group to undertake a national competition policy review of the Hawkers Act 1936.
The essence of this bill is focused on the appropriate allocation of public space for hawking, taking into account the impacts on third persons. In other words, Mr Speaker, this bill seeks to balance the competing rights of persons conducting a business against the right of the public using their entitlement to public space to go about their business unimpeded.
This bill is supported by hawkers themselves. It will be greatly appreciated by the general public, who wish to go about their daily business with a minimum of fuss and annoyance. The new licensing regulations this bill introduces replaces the permit needed under the Hawkers Act 1936. That makes for a fairer and far more equitable licensing system. They also increase competition, and hence consumer benefits, because there are no longer character restrictions or minimum age requirements for hawkers seeking a licence.
I note also that scrutiny report No 24 of 2003 makes some interesting observations, especially as it relates to section 42, whereby the chief executive may appoint any person to be an authorised officer for the act. The committee quite properly suggests that some