Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3587 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
While I am opposing this piece of legislation today, it should be made quite clear that this is not the end of the debate. There is further legislation pending and we will discuss this further in the Assembly. However, I think it is important to keep in mind the key elements of the debate: we should be looking at the black market, the illegal sale of fireworks, and the sale of illegal fireworks, and how we are facing that problem in the industry, as well as how the regulations we currently have in place are working to make the situation safer.
There has also been some comment about how fireworks harm the people who set them off and similar issues. I think the regulations that the ACT has had in place have meant that the fireworks that have been used are more strictly monitored for safety standards. What some members might be remembering as quite dangerous fireworks no longer exist, so we need to understand what it is we are dealing with in the here and now in our fireworks industry, and not what has been going on in the past.
I will not be supporting this legislation today but I do look forward to the government's legislation and a more regulatory approach to this issue.
MS TUCKER (11.20): The Greens will be supporting this bill in principle but, I stress, in principle only. We would want to make some fairly extensive amendments before we would support it through the next stage. It is obvious that it is not going to be successful anyway, today.
I think it is important to note the comments of the scrutiny of bills committee. When we looked at this legislation, we found a couple of issues related to the use of strict liability, and slightly inconsistent statements in other clauses about whether or not there is excuse. That would need to be sorted out if this was going to proceed. Also, in the Greens' view the penalties are over the top and there is very extreme strict liability as well. We would not have been able to support that.
However, we are prepared at this point in time to say that we would support it in principle because I am well aware of the issues involved, as I was a member of the Legal Affairs Committee that looked at this matter. I am also well aware of the recommendations that we made as a committee. Those recommendations did not come lightly to the committee, let's put it that way. There are very strong feelings in the community about this issue. If the Greens, in particular, were to be comfortable with proceeding in that way, the government would really have had to respond quite immediately and positively to those recommendations.
Observers of ACT politics would be aware that there are very strong lobbies on both sides of this story. There is the fireworks industry and there is animal liberation, and there is the rest of the community in the middle. What came out very clearly to me after this last fireworks weekend-and the period leading up to it and after it, when fireworks were still being let off-is that nothing had happened since the committee had made its recommendations and, in fact, the situation was worse.
While the committee did recommend improved regulation, it is the Greens' view at this point that we basically have to take a very strong stand because there was no action taken by the government or the industry. Basically, since we tabled that report, the government has failed to amend the act, there have been the usual lost court cases and there was not