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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 26 March 2009) . . Page.. 1376 ..

It has been drawn to my attention that the city rangers are in a quandary when it comes to working out precisely when the two-day period commences. Knowing when the registered operator of a vehicle has actually received notification that the vehicle will be removed requires certain assumptions that lead officers to err on the side of caution in calculating when the two days starts running. During this waiting period, there may be a number of phone calls to the department from various members of the public about the abandoned vehicle. I commend these calls placed by the civic-minded members of our community. It is unfortunate that, until now, there was no visible mechanism in place to reassure them that action was already underway regarding the vehicle.

So not only are city rangers unable to remove the vehicle until they feel confident that the operator has had time to receive the notice, there is also no outward visible sign that lets members of the public know that the abandoned vehicle has been reported to the department. The end result can see some abandoned vehicles remaining in place for a week or longer. This was not the purpose of the amendments that were passed by the Assembly in 2004 to tighten the processes for dealing with abandoned vehicles by reducing the time frame for notification from seven to two days.

This bill proposes a new notification regime, which will allow for a more rapid warning process to fast track the removal of abandoned vehicles from public land. It has the added benefit of letting passers-by know that the vehicle has already been recorded for the city rangers. This will permit the rangers to serve the notice to remove the vehicle by placing a notice on the vehicle itself. This system will work like the current effective vehicle notice arrangements or parking ticket arrangements.

The two-day period for removal starts as soon as the ranger puts the notice on the car. Efforts will also be made to contact the registered operator of the vehicle by telephoning during this period. The Legislation Act provides for an extension of time limits if they fall on weekdays or public holidays. This bill does not alter those provisions. So if the two-day period expires on a weekend, the time limit is extended to the next working day.

Once the notice period has expired, and assuming there has been no action by the person responsible for the vehicle, it can be removed to a government retention area. At that point, a further letter will be issued to the registered operator of the vehicle to advise them what will happen with their vehicle if they do not collect it from the retention area in accordance with time frames given under the Uncollected Goods Act.

Sometimes the registered operator is not the owner of the vehicle. In those circumstances, the registered operator is required to let the department know who the owner is, if they have that information. The department will then make efforts to contact the owner to let them know what has happened to their car. After the holding period if the vehicle is not claimed by its owner, it will either be scrapped if it is valued at less than $500 or sent to auction should its value exceed this amount.

Abandoned cars blight our neighbourhoods and public spaces. They can be potentially hazardous in some cases, especially for children, and they can be arson incidents

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