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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3596 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

redrafted. This is exactly what the Liberal opposition has done, resulting in the proposed legislation that we debate here today.

I would like to refer to a couple of the comments that have been made in this debate. The minister claims that we have knee-jerk reacted about the long June weekend. But this is not about a series of activities simply around the long June weekend. It goes to the heart of disruptive activity that has occurred over many months either side of the June weekend. The minister has also foreshadowed her legislation and says that it will meet all the community's requirements, but I maintain that it will not. From what she has foreshadowed, the minister and the government are only tinkering around the edges of the problem. The Dangerous Goods Act is to be comprehensively redrafted. I am disappointed that the minister has not debated the substance of this legislation here today. She has simply wasted the time that she had by advertising the government's bill.

I do sympathise with the minister's position as there have been complications and complexities and, predictably, the usual court actions brought forward by commercial interests. But I do believe that this does not mask the government's failure to act. We know that we have a problem that needs to be reacted to, but we are not seeing action. The minister talks about the industry needing time to consider the new regulations. But haven't we given the industry something like five years to act responsibly? The minister talks about a crackdown, and I do welcome that. I do welcome the announcement by the minister that she has some ideas about how to crack down on the illegal trade in black market fireworks, and I look forward to monitoring that action.

The minister claims that the location and the reporting to the press of the roman candle fireworks at Amaroo playing fields was a political stunt. That is pretty damn weak, Minister. The reporting of the fireworks to the Chronicle was a genuine attempt by me to inform the community of the magnitude of this problem. The minister simply does not know her law. By law I was not obliged to immediately report this finding to WorkCover. As a shadow minister I have an obligation to the community to draw their attention to the failure of this government to act. The aim of this legislation is to safeguard the community. That is not a political stunt.

Ms Dundas complained that the banning of retail sales would be a draconian act. What is draconian is the behaviour of a minority of reckless people who use fireworks over three months around the June weekend and cause mayhem for little children and pets. That is what is draconian. What is draconian is the attack with bangers on elderly pedestrians. What is draconian is the treatment of good citizens by acts of vandalism-some of those acts quite dangerous by their nature.

I thank Mr Hargreaves for his amusing, flippant but totally useless contribution to this serious debate and I turn to a couple of comments made by Mrs Cross. Mrs Cross says that the good fun is only for a short period. Well, I stress again that we are not talking about a short period. In this case we are talking in 2003 about a period of three months of disruption; a period which grows annually. Indeed, we are not seeking to simply ban good fun. As with the banning of drink-driving, we are responsibly seeking to ban dangerous and irresponsible behaviour that seriously impairs and damages our community.

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