Page 4312 - Week 12 - Thursday, 24 October 2019

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Heritage Amendment Bill 2019

Mr Gentleman, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Advanced Technology and Space Industries, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.02): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present the Heritage Amendment Bill 2019. The Canberra community is passionate about our shared heritage and has been calling for more effective ways to deal with breaches of the Heritage Act. We have listened to these calls and we are now answering with a responsive system of heritage directions and compliance notification. The purpose of this bill is to make a range of amendments to strengthen the way damage to heritage places and objects can be dealt with both to deter people from doing damage in the first place and to make them responsible for repairing any damage to heritage places or objects.

This important bill seeks to improve heritage compliance tools resulting from the investigations of the unauthorised removal of two Aboriginal scar trees in recent years. First, I would like to state that I recognise the importance of Aboriginal scar trees to our region’s heritage and I share the significant disappointment in the loss of these two important trees. The loss of these trees has been felt strongly by all of us here today, even more so for our local Aboriginal community. The removal of these trees is a significant loss of an important connection to their culture and their past.

These recent heritage compliance matters have highlighted that the current deterrent system in place for heritage offences is not as effective as it could be. A key recommendation resulting from the investigation of one of the removed trees was that consideration be given to expanding the range of available heritage enforcement tools currently available. So I asked the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate to explore the introduction of an on-the-spot fine system and repair orders. This bill seeks to do just that.

The bill will give the Heritage Council the power to issue repair damage directions to people to repair damage they have done to heritage places and objects, if they can be repaired. The bill establishes an offence, incurring substantial penalties, if a repair damage direction is contravened. A maximum penalty of 500 penalty units is proposed for this offence, equating to a monetary value of $80,000 for an individual and $405,000 for a corporation.

If the territory has to carry out the requirements of a heritage direction, costs can be recovered from the person the direction was given to. The giving of a repair damage

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