Page 1375 - Week 04 - Thursday, 26 March 2009

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Thursday, 26 March 2009

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Roads and Public Places Amendment Bill 2009

Mr Stanhope, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (10.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, this bill is to amend the Roads and Public Places Act 1937 to modify existing provisions to expedite the removal of abandoned vehicles in the ACT. The purpose of the bill is to address in a more timely manner how notification can be delivered to the owner of a potentially abandoned vehicle.

As members will be aware, any unattended vehicle that is left for a period of time can attract unwanted attention from vandals or thieves. There were approximately 1,300 potentially abandoned vehicles reported to the Department of Territory and Municipal Services last financial year. Of the vehicles not retrieved by their owners, around eight per cent received additional damage after they came to the attention of the department but before they could be legally removed. This vandalism can then spread like decay, with graffiti occurring and additional damage to private property in the vicinity. This is not acceptable, and it needs to be addressed.

At present, city rangers assess what they consider to be abandoned vehicles closely, and they do not make the assessment lightly. Evidence such as being unregistered, rubbish and debris as evidence of the vehicle being left in the one place for a considerable time and the condition of the vehicle are all considered. Depending on the situation, rangers may also seek to contact the registered operator of the vehicle by phone before issuing a notice. Only when rangers have sufficient grounds to consider a vehicle abandoned do they act.

The registration details of suspected abandoned vehicles are also provided to the police so that a check can be made against vehicles that have been reported as stolen. Under the current provisions of the Roads and Public Places Act, a potentially abandoned but validly registered vehicle cannot be moved by the city rangers until they take additional certain steps. They need to send a notice to the registered operator of the vehicle. The registered operator then has two days from the time they received the notice to remove the vehicle before the department can step in and remove it instead.

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