Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 12 February 2015) . . Page.. 261 ..
The government has been taking steps as a result of the committee inquiry. The government has been looking at the issues of the application of the Environment Protection Act, in particular, the noise limit controls in the city centre and other major town centres. As part of that we have been undertaking what is effectively a noise-mapping exercise, noise monitoring and analysis, at these key areas. For example, we are examining the appropriateness of the current noise zone standards for town, group and local centres, including mixed use areas such as New Acton and the Kingston foreshore.
The EPA has commissioned acoustic specialists to undertake noise monitoring in a variety of locations. Whilst the final conclusions are not yet in, I can indicate to members that the initial assessments indicate that, for example, in the city centre there would appear to be good grounds to change the existing noise standards from the existing 10 pm cut-off to a midnight cut-off in terms of the standard for night noise. Recognising that loud music should be provided for in a more flexible manner than has been the case to date—which currently has a 10 pm cut-off—is an important early conclusion of that mapping work. The final bit of that acoustic mapping work will be completed in the coming months, and I expect to see a report from the EPA as a result. That will be an important input into this process.
Equally, the reforms the Chief Minister has announced in relation to Access Canberra present a very good opportunity to bring together all the different regulatory arms of government. The nub of the problem with responding effectively to the live music question and providing a supportive environment for it in the ACT is the silo approach around regulation, whether in relation to liquor, noise, public place permissions to use public spaces, planning controls and building controls. At the moment these are spread across a diversity of silos within government.
The establishment of Access Canberra gives us the opportunity to bring those policy and regulatory environments together and to work holistically towards an appropriate regulatory response that supports live music in our community and in our centres in a responsible and appropriate way which balances the needs of residents with the needs of the broader community when it comes to having a vibrant and active cultural life here in our city.
That is the way forward, and the government is committed to that. As the Minister for the Environment, with responsibility for noise, and also as the Attorney-General, with responsibility for liquor licensing, I am keen to see this work be built upon, and Access Canberra is an opportunity to do that.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Urban Renewal and Minister for Tourism and Events) (12.03): I thank Minister Rattenbury for bringing this topic to the Assembly this morning, and I take the opportunity from the outset to say I appreciate the spirit behind this motion and the desire to see more diversity and vibrancy in our city’s public spaces. Live music and events are undoubtedly an integral part of cultural life in Canberra. We have a diverse musical culture and a history of providing very strong support for a range of live music events.