Page 5304 - Week 14 - Thursday, 19 November 2009

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reached—a compromise that, on the one hand, will respect the concerns about peace and quiet and safety of people, property and animals and, on the other hand, will keep the tradition of cracker night alive.

There is no doubt that this has been a tough issue for a long time. Members in this place today have dwelt upon the debate in 2003 in which my former Liberal colleague Mr Pratt called for a ban on fireworks. The Liberal proposal at that time was in response to the report of the former Standing Committee on Legal Affairs which, in 2002, recommended a rewrite of the laws relating to the use of fireworks.

More importantly, though, Mr Pratt’s proposal responded to community views at the time. No doubt those community views reflected and perhaps were the result of the inadequacy of the regulatory framework at that time. But this Stanhope government did not support that ban. Indeed, during the debate, government members went to great lengths to say that they wanted consumer fireworks to continue to be publicly available. Even Mr Hargreaves spoke in that debate and, in that debate, while he declared his commitment to a ban, he failed to translate that commitment into action and he voted with the government to put down Mr Pratt’s bill.

A lot has changed since 2003. Since then the regulations have been tightened and strengthened while continuing to make consumer fireworks available to the public. We need to reflect on what has actually changed. The minister said that back in the 60s the WA government did away with consumer fireworks because they were dangerous, and in the 1960s they were. They did blow up letterboxes—I have seen kids do it—because we had big bangers and things like that. These sorts of fireworks no longer exist and are not available. The amount of explosive material in fireworks today is a small proportion of what it was in the 1960s. Many of the arguments about safety issues have been addressed by this government over time.

Today, we have much tighter regulations, and that is why we are now seeing an increasing majority of people agreeing that the sale and use of consumer fireworks in the ACT should continue. How have the government responded to that? They have really pulled down the shutters and their approach is to ban it altogether. They have not listened to the public consultation; they have ignored the majority and they have not considered the options that could be put forward.

Has the government considered a program of on-the-spot fines that could be given to people who illegally use fireworks outside the framework? It has not. The minister said in her speech that “there is no legal framework that would work” and that “we have tried”. The government has not tried the notion of on-the-spot fines. Not one person has been prosecuted for using fireworks outside the regulated times. Officers do not have the power to issue on-the-spot fines.

Has the government considered going back to the use of consumer fireworks on one night? It has not. That is clearly shown by the FOI documents that I have received. This would limit the disruption. Has the government considered looking at having designated cracker areas like parks or ovals? It clearly has not. The documents show that quite clearly. This notion, which has been put forward by members of the community, would create community meeting places where people could come together and enjoy cracker night. They may not even let off crackers themselves but

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