Page 356 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 12 February 2013

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We understand the premise for the introduction of this bill and agree that the modernisation of this legislation as a whole is timely. As the term “public place” will soon be a defined term under the Legislation Act, it will not be possible to use the same language when referring to the use of “public unleased land” as set out in the old legislation, hence the need for a new bill. “Public unleased land” is the new terminology for legislative purposes and its definition is clearly outlined in clause 8 of this new bill.

The bill mirrors the provisions in the Roads and Public Places Act relating to roads, placement of signage, and removal of graffiti and overhanging trees and branches with no real change except for terminology. The most noteworthy part of this legislation, however, is the changes to the permit system.

In the Roads and Public Places Act, the permit system was ad hoc and clunky at best. The use of the land was not well reflected for legislative purposes, and the new bill provides a basis for a better permit system, provided that users are given clear guidelines on what use requires a permit and what use does not. We are told that the permit system will not be used as a policing mechanism but, rather, a way to facilitate the use of land. We trust this will be the case. We are informed that the current permit holders will not be disadvantaged by the introduction of this legislation.

I would like to reiterate that the opposition’s support of this bill is conditional on the basis that the permit system will, in fact, streamline current processes and make it easier to manage and use public unleased land.

Another notable addition in the permit system is the new requirement in some instances for financial assurance or a bond to be provided before obtaining a permit to use public unleased land. I am sure there are many instances where this would have saved the taxpayer the burden of rectifying damage caused by users. However, for community groups and charities, such as Lions or Rotary, who run regular events and markets on an ongoing basis, it must be made clear that no additional burden, financial or otherwise, is placed upon them.

The government tells us that definitive guidelines for the permit system will be developed after the bill is enacted. This is all very well and good, but these guidelines are integral to the effectiveness of this piece of legislation. I argue that, whilst I do not agree with being overly prescriptive with the legislative instruments—nor do I agree with over-regulating anything—this new system will only work if well-thought-out guidelines are in place in a timely manner. Such guidelines should be put out for consultation prior to implementation and, ideally, as disallowable instruments.

Once again, the opposition will be supporting this bill today, and I commend the TAMS directorate—in particular, City Services—for the work that has gone into this piece of legislation.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (10.38): I welcome the opportunity to participate in this debate on the Public Unleased Land Bill 2012. The current act is administratively inefficient and, in some cases, enforcement is difficult. Some matters have specific

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