Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2885 ..
MR PRATT (continuing):
Mr Speaker, as a young lad, I, like many of my colleagues in this place, also enjoyed the use of fireworks, including playing around with them for a week or so either side of the Queen's Birthday. While I recall that there were some neighbourhood disruptions around that period, there was at least a reasonable limit to that and the community seemed to cope with good humour and some patience. I feel that the size of the bangers and rockets now readily available and the proliferation of them through black marketing turns all of that around. A culture has developed encouraging extreme behaviour, which is now significantly damaging our community to the point where the community is saying "enough is enough".
Mr Speaker, I would point to an incident at the weekend where five men were injured during an accident around a campfire. The fact that some of the poor men who were injured had their legs broken would indicate that what had exploded was something absolutely illegal and beyond specification. Of course, we always know that children will suffer burns and facial injuries anyway with the existing "within specification"fireworks, but it is very unusual to hear of limbs being broken because of something which may have exploded on the ground close to victims. Those fireworks may well have been purchased through ACT outlets because the ACT has outlets that nobody else seems to have anymore.
Mr Speaker, it is not proposed to curtail government-run and approved events utilising fireworks. The annual program would need to be restricted, though, to the traditional event dates. Legislation needs to ensure that the system is not abused by groups running random, non-bona fide activities, causing ongoing disruption to the community.
On 27 June 2002, Mr Stefaniak, as chair of the Legal Affairs Standing Committee, tabled report No 3, which related to the operation of the Dangerous Goods Act 1975, with particular reference to fireworks. The report called for a rewrite of the legislation on fireworks. It also called for that rewrite to permit fireworks to be used on three occasions: for cultural events such as Chinese New Year, for public displays such as Skyfire, and for pre-arranged community events during the three-day June long weekend. The report made a total of 16 recommendations. The aim of the recommendations was to put in place a suitable regulatory regime to permit the ongoing enjoyment of community fireworks over the June long weekend, but for the public not to be permitted to acquire and use fireworks at any other time in the year.
The first recommendation was that the Dangerous Goods Act 1975 be urgently redrafted, and that is exactly what the bill that I have just presented seeks to do. It seeks to redraft the Dangerous Goods Act 1975.
Mr Speaker, in summary, the bill does the following. It bans the retail sale of shopgood fireworks in the ACT. It gives, in effect, model rocket propellant devices the same status as fireworks. It introduces the definition of "dangerous use of fireworks and model rocket propellant devices"as a way that is likely to "endanger the health or safety of, or cause distress or suffering to, a person or animal, or damage to property".
The bill seeks to restrict the use of all fireworks to certified pyrotechnicians and government-approved community organisations. Also, the bill seeks to permit