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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 19 November 2015) . . Page.. 4220 ..

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Planning, Minister for Roads and Parking, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Minister for Children and Young People and Minister for Ageing) (11.12): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I present the Planning, Building and Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (No 2). This is the ninth bill to be created under the government’s omnibus planning, building and environment legislation amendment bill process. This process manages all minor policy, technical or editorial amendments for legislation administered by the Environment and Planning Directorate.

This omnibus bill process provides an efficient avenue for consolidation of minor amendments into a single bill. The single bill process also helps the wider community to access and understand changes being made to environment and planning legislation. This bill makes minor policy, technical and editorial amendments to the Building (General) Regulation 2008, the Environment Protection Act 1997, the Environment Protection Regulation 2005, the Nature Conservation Act 2014, the Planning and Development Act 2007 and the Planning and Development Regulation 2008. The principal amendments will ensure greater protection of public safety in the territory’s nature reserves and reduce unnecessary red tape in the building approval process.

At this point, I would like to introduce a principal amendment of the bill related to the Nature Conservation Act 2014. This amendment relates to the power of the Conservator of Flora and Fauna to close nature reserves by issuing a closed reserve declaration under section 259 of the Nature Conservation Act. A closed reserve declaration may be made if the conservator believes that the continued unrestricted public access may endanger public safety or interfere with the management of the reserve. A closed reserve declaration is a notifiable instrument and the additional public notice of the closure must be given, including displaying notices in a prominent place at the reserve itself.

The bill proposes a statutory mechanism to facilitate the closure of a nature reserve on an urgent basis. The amendment will permit a closed reserve declaration to commence on a day or at a time earlier than its notification day. This will allow a declaration to commence at the time it is made and for public notice to be given subsequently, including signs erected at the reserve.

The amendment in this bill deals with the practical difficulty of needing to urgently close a nature reserve, but having currently to wait until the closed reserve declaration becomes effective on the day after notification. This can involve a lag time of a couple of days before the declaration can commence. For example, a reserve may need to be closed urgently on a weekend to prevent risk to public safety from a bush fire, snowfall or high winds.

The amendment also expands the available defence, for under section 260 of the Nature Conservation Act it is an offence to enter a closed reserve. The expanded defence means that a person will not have committed an offence if they have no

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