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Roads and Jetties Amendment (Works In Highways) Bill 2019 - Second Reading

3 September 2019

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to make a brief contribution on the Roads and Jetties Amendment (Works in Highways) Bill 2019, and to indicate from the outset that we will be supporting this legislation.

It is not a particularly complicated bill, but when you go back and have a look at the principal act, it does provide significantly more administrative powers for the minister to be able to control and to an extent enforce his decisions in relation to structures around the state highways. I was also wondering, minister, what the genesis of the bill was. Obviously there have been lot of roadworks lately, and clearly there has been a case for such a specific amendment bill to arise. I am sure there is a whole suite of people who it will impact on, including farmers, landowners, contractors, and potentially people who have a small stall or something on state highways and construction works, I would have thought, too. Is that correct, minister?

Mr Ferguson - I am sorry. I missed the last part of your point.

Ms O'CONNOR - The bill applies to everyone I would imagine, so there would be farmers and landowners, but also contractors and construction workers who are undertaking construction work on the part of government, and who may have left a structure in a place on a state highway.

Mr Ferguson - Correct, or unfinished works there?

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, thanks. Hopefully it will allow you to make sure that our state highways are free of structures that should not be there, and structures, of course, include signage or a billboard.

I noted that the language has tightened up in relation to the capacity for the minister or the Crown to recoup costs for a direction to correct works or remove structures. It tightens up the provisions that enable the Crown to recoup any costs incurred. The principal act at clause 7, which has been deleted in the amendment bill, says:

If the minister takes any action under subsection (5)(d), the minister, by written notice provided to the person who is erecting or placing, or has erected or placed a structure or is doing or has done other works in a state highway or subsidiary road, may require the person to pay the reasonable costs of that action, and those costs -

(a) are a debt due and payable to the Crown; and

(b) may be recovered in a court of competent jurisdiction.

The amendments remove the word 'may' and instead inserts:

If the minister under subsections (7) or (8) authorises a person to take action, the reasonable costs incurred in taking the action -

(a) are a debt due and owing by the relevant person to the Crown; and

(b) may be recovered in a court of competent jurisdiction.

I simply note that is a reasonably significant change in the administration of the act, where before there was possibly a capacity for discretion in terms of whether or not the relevant person would be required to pay costs and now the legislation makes it clear that the relevant person will be required to pay costs if there are any costs incurred.

I do not think this is a contentious bill. It is not particularly complicated. I believe it has been drafted in the interests of safer highways and subsidiaries, so Dr Woodruff and I are very comfortable supporting the bill.