Page 359 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 12 February 2013

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implications of unauthorised use? Improved compliance measures for the use of public unleased land will ensure protection of the amenity and natural value as well as facilitate the use of public unleased land for everyone. The Public Unleased Land Bill is a significant improvement on the current scheme that will enable every Canberran to get the most out of our public land.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing) (10.46), in reply: The need to amend and update the 75-year-old Roads and Public Places Act 1937 was initially identified through a regulatory review process. While it has been amended over the years in a piecemeal fashion, the current act simply does not respond to contemporary needs. The new act will not only be up to date with current legislative styles and much easier to read; it will also much better reflect the changed needs of the community.

The new act covers seven broad subject matters:

roads, regarding their level and closure;

interference with a public place, including the excavation or breaking of the surface;

movable signs;

the removal of abandoned vehicles, signs and objects from a public place;

trees in certain situations where they may hang over a public place or are damaging a public place;

graffiti removal; and

permits for the exclusive use of public places.

Currently the Roads and Public Places Act is administratively inefficient, and in some circumstances enforcement is difficult. It cannot respond to current demand and makes regulating the use of public land very inefficient. Our centenary year, with a large number of events being organised, has really highlighted just how important the new scheme is.

The aims of the legislation being debated today are to introduce a precautionary approach in relation to the protection and management of public land to protect its amenity and natural value. The bill will improve and streamline the legislative framework, improve administration, and introduce more effective sanctions.

Importantly, the bill will create a new permit system for the use of public unleased land for an event or activity. The new system will be more flexible, allowing greater scope for decision-makers when issuing permits, which will help both those using the land and the regulators who also have to manage the protection of the land.

Currently, many of the major events and activities held on unleased territory land are organised by professional event organisers as well as individuals, charities, school organisations and government agencies. The use of public unleased land for these events is authorised through the application and subsequent issuing of a Roads and Public Places Act 1937 section 15A permit to place an object in a public place. Common practice has been for organisers to apply for the section 15A permit, which is then used to, in effect, authorise the staging of the entire event.

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