Page 923 - Week 03 - Thursday, 19 March 2015

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Public Pools Bill 2014

Debate resumed from 27 November 2014, on motion by Mr Rattenbury:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (11.43): The Public Pools Bill, as its name suggests, is concerned with the regulation of the ACT’s public swimming pools. Given that it replaces legislation that is nearly 60 years old, it is probably not before time. In the ACT there are six territory-owned assets, at Dickson, Manuka and Civic and pools within the leisure centres at Tuggeranong, Erindale and Gungahlin. These public pools are managed under facility management agreements—in effect, management contracts to allow the operators to run these facilities on behalf of the government and for the benefit of Canberra families.

In truth, the existing legislation did not support today’s agreements and probably made management of the pools somewhat restricted. This new bill reflects modern facility management practice, sets minimum standards based on current national best practice and allows operators to respond to changing safety standards. That means that, if an operator sees that urgent maintenance is required, the bill provides the flexibility needed to immediately close the pool.

It also accommodates a more sensible approach to disciplinary matters such as antisocial behaviour at pools. Previously, any misdemeanour had to be dealt with under the Crimes Act. With this new bill, pool managers can better manage bad behaviour and simply get the person to leave, or perhaps discourage them from entering in the first place. More serious crimes can still be addressed by police intervention or licensed security guards. That said, after speaking with pool operators, bad behaviour is not a major problem in ACT pools, but it is just as well to have a more streamlined approach in keeping with other less interventionist clauses in the legislation.

The bill also includes two consequential amendments. The Public Baths and Public Bathing Act 1956 is proposed to be renamed the Public Bathing Act 1956, as it will now regulate only public bathing areas outside of public pools, such as Casuarina Sands, and also make some amendments to the Uncollected Goods Act 1996 relating to lost property and items left in public pools.

I advise that the Canberra Liberals will be supporting this bill and the consequential amendments. In doing so, I note that, while it is good to see that we now have modern legislation to manage our facilities, it is regrettable that half of the pools that this bill covers are, indeed, as old and outdated as the previous legislation, and some even predate the legislation!

The Civic pool, or more formally the Canberra Olympic pool, has for many years been a popular and important part of Canberra life. It is used year round, on weekdays and weekends by a cross-section of Canberra’s population. But it is not only recreational swimmers and families that use this facility. The Canberra Amateur

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