Page 564 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 22 February 2012

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The ability to waive fines or to allow people to pay in other flexible ways can also save administrative costs, as it means that the authorities do not have to endlessly chase fines.

I would lastly like to note that this bill is about transport legislation, and therefore the proposed changes relate only to traffic infringements. However, the ACT Greens believe that the same flexibility needs to be considered for other kinds of infringements. For example, financially and socially disadvantaged Canberrans are most likely to receive public space and public order infringements. As an example, a fine for smoking in a public place would constitute nearly one-quarter of the fortnightly income of someone on a Newstart allowance. This is an issue that the government should pursue and that the Greens will follow up if there is no action.

I commend the Road Transport (General) (Infringement Notices) Amendment Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Corbell) adjourned to the next sitting.

Liquor Amendment Bill 2012

Mr Rattenbury, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.30): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

This is a bill that makes one commonsense amendment to the liquor licensing system in the ACT. As members will be aware, there has been reform of the liquor laws in recent years, much of which the Greens have supported, as has much of the chamber. I think that we have seen the reforms rolled out quite effectively in recent times.

However, the Greens also believe that a commonsense approach has been lacking regarding one particular aspect of the reforms which relates to the timing of annual liquor fees. Since the reforms were commenced, the annual licensing fees have seen significant changes, with increases in 2010 and then some reductions and increases in 2011.

In both of these years, the fees were lumped on businesses with a very small turnaround time before they were due. In 2010, the fees were released on 19 October, which was six weeks before they were due, on 1 December. In 2011 the fees were released on 9 November, just three weeks before the 1 December due date. So the situation appears to be getting worse, not better, in spite of the passage of the reforms.

It is the Greens’ view that businesses need more than a handful of weeks to cater for any changes in their annual fee and to plan for the year ahead. The need for this change comes out of two years of frustration for business in the hospitality industry.

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