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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3586 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

we would prefer to look at closer regulation and education to minimise conflict in the community.

The ACT has been an Australian leader in dealing with issues by using regulatory approaches. We have a successful adult video industry that seems to generate few complaints. We do not have the black market in pornography that exists in other jurisdictions. In fact, I heard something on the radio the other day which indicated that, because we do actually have a regulatory approach to pornography, we can control what is being filmed and what is being distributed, whereas in other jurisdictions in Australia, because everything is just a crime, videos are being sold that have been made in quite illegal ways and show quite illegal acts. The makers can get away with it because there is no regulatory approach.

The ACT has been among the first to decriminalise prostitution and the personal use of marijuana. While there are still debates to be had in these areas of social policy, these are significantly better approaches than those of other jurisdictions that have maintained the criminalisation of these activities.

I also believe that this bill will do little to alter the problems associated with fireworks in the territory. Almost every complaint that I have received was related to either the illegal purchase of fireworks or the illegal use of these fireworks. We can already see that the creation of penalties for the use and sale of fireworks has not prevented concern. However, the opposition's answer is to create more penalties.

A crucial element that has been missing from the debate is the attention that should be given to ways of effectively policing the black market for fireworks that is rife throughout Australia. The banning of shopgoods fireworks in other jurisdictions has exacerbated the problems relating to the proliferation of the black market. While the sale of fireworks to the public may be banned in other jurisdictions, fireworks are still easily available in just about any pub or out of the back of a car, as we have heard.

What is worse is that these may be far more dangerous fireworks than those sold legally in the ACT, as no quality control has been applied to them, and they may be dangerous to use without professional training. The maintenance of the legal industry allows government to place restrictions on the types of fireworks being sold and ensure that they meet maximum safety, storage and security requirements. The ACT has significantly increased the level of regulation of the fireworks industry over the last two decades, with resulting increases in the safety of legally obtained fireworks and reductions in the misuse of the product.

Today, the minister has given us to understand that the government is developing its own bill to increase the regulation of the fireworks industry. My understanding is that this will include tighter restrictions on the types of fireworks that may be sold legally, and the removal of noisy fireworks from the list of those that may be sold over the counter. I think that this is a more sensible approach to dealing with the conflict in the community over this issue than resorting to a knee-jerk ban. I look forward to seeing the government's legislation and hope it goes some way towards defusing the community's current concerns.

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