Page 5907 - Week 14 - Thursday, 8 December 2011

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Public Unleased Land Bill 2011

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

Title read by Clerk.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Health and Minister for Territory and Municipal Services) (10.12): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am very pleased to introduce the Public Unleased Land Bill 2011. It introduces a contemporary version of the Roads and Public Places Act which was introduced in 1937 and which has a history of many amendments over the last 70 years. The most obvious change introduced by the bill is a new name for the statute. The term “public place” will soon become a defined term under the Legislation Act and accordingly has a consistent definition across the ACT statute book. As the new meaning of “public place” is not consistent with the definition for the land that is under discussion in the current bill, the land that this bill refers to will become known as “public unleased land”. Public unleased land is defined in clause 8 of the bill and means unleased territory land that the public is entitled to use or is open to, or used by, the public.

The bill also introduces an objects clause. The object of this bill is to protect the amenity and natural value of public unleased land and facilitate the use of this land. The bill provides a broad framework which allows for administrative arrangements that can support and promote these objectives. The bill modernises provisions relating to matters such as public roads, drainage and construction work that may affect public unleased land, the approval of signs, aspects of graffiti removal and removal of unsafe overhanging trees and plants.

The main area of reform however relates to the permit system which authorises the use of public unleased land. Historically, under the Roads and Public Places Act, major events and activities held on territory land were permitted by the application and subsequent issuing of a permit to allow the placement of an object on public land. In 2010, over 4,116 events were held using the permit arrangements for objects. The activities and events ranged from musical festivals to motor sport activities to weddings. Fifty-four of these events attracted over 1,000 people.

The bill includes a clearer framework for the permit system that allows people to formalise their use of public unleased land in a way that more appropriately reflects these uses. The bill authorises the use of public unleased land for use by a person or business for an activity or event, rather than merely for the placement of objects. Activities or events may include the placing of tables and chairs on a footpath outside a cafe, placing objects such as construction skips or charity bins, but also includes the holding of markets, a concert, or the holding of a function such as a wedding.

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