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Dropping a cigarette butt could soon cost $500, while it’s $1500 for not securing a load

Glynis Quinlan 7 June 2019 62

Cigarette butts have been the cause of 13 per cent of landscape fires in the ACT.

Fines for dropping a cigarette butt in the ACT will increase dramatically from $60 to $500 under new littering and illegal dumping laws introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly yesterday (June 6).

Fines for the dangerous practice of driving a vehicle with an unsecured load will also increase from $500 to $1500 under the proposed new laws, which will also provide for abandoned vehicles to be removed more quickly and the use of CCTV footage of dumping as evidence for issuing fines.

ACT City Services Minister Chris Steel said the legislation will also extend existing offences to capture all types of littering and dumping, and will introduce a framework for escalating offences, where penalties increase according to the volume, mass or nature of litter dumped.

In 2017-18 there were almost 800 recorded reports of illegal dumping incidents by Transport Canberra and City Services which cost $2 million to clean up.

“Cleaning up after illegal dumping is a financial burden on ratepayers as our city services staff spend a considerable amount of time and money removing litter,” Mr Steel said.

“These stronger littering laws reflect the importance of reducing and deterring littering in our community to protect and enhance the natural and built environment, while ensuring the health, amenity and wellbeing of ACT residents.

“Canberrans should be able to be proud of a clean, liveable city without illegal dumping in their streets, parks and local schools.”

Strange deposits of rubbish along the road - this one looks like someone opened the car door and dumped the contents out in one lot. Photo: Elka Wood.

The new laws aim to deter littering like this. Photo: Elka Wood.

Mr Steel said that cigarette butts are a significant risk to the environment and have been the cause of 13 per cent of landscape fires in the ACT.

He said that under the proposed laws, dropping a cigarette will incur a fine that reflects the seriousness of the offence. The fines will apply regardless of whether the cigarette butt is lit, unlit or extinguished.

Under the bill, fines will also increase for driving a vehicle with an uncovered load to reflect the danger that this poses for other road users and the environment.

“The new laws will amend the existing offence provisions to ensure all kinds of littering and dumping are appropriately captured,” Mr Steel said.

“I know that in new suburbs, building materials on private land sometimes blow away into local waterways as well as other people’s property. This bill will ensure that builders store material securely to prevent it from becoming litter.

“The new provisions will allow for clearly abandoned vehicles to be removed more quickly and more efficiently from areas such as car parks or inside school grounds, and other private areas that the public can access.

“CCTV is increasingly being used to monitor areas known for dumping in the ACT and at other public areas, such as recycling centres and schools, and the Government will use this evidence to issue fines.”

Mr Steel said CCTV footage of dumping will be used as evidence to issue fines.

Mr Steel said that an important innovation in the proposed laws is that vehicle registration details will be used to identify people who are illegally dumping to enable infringement notices to be issued more easily, similar to speeding fines.

“Under these laws if you litter, from or near a vehicle, it will be up to the vehicle owner to explain who pays the fine.”

The new bill also deals with the vexed issue of hoarding by setting up a staged approach for dealing with litter on a private site, including the hoarding of items that are litter. This starts with education and awareness about the problem, and then could proceed with a show cause and a notice to remedy.

If none of these steps are successful it could then be followed by an abatement order, where TCCS are allowed to enter a site to clean-up and abate the hoarding of litter. However, the legislation makes clear that this framework does not criminalise the mental health issue of hoarding.

Mr Steel said that the recently announced compliance team from TCCS will play an important role in policing the new laws after the government has first undertaken a comprehensive community education program about them.

He said there are many options available for ACT residents to dispose of their unwanted items responsibly. For more information about this visit


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62 Responses to
Dropping a cigarette butt could soon cost $500, while it’s $1500 for not securing a load
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tim_c 7:53 am 14 Jun 19

“Fines for the dangerous practice of driving a vehicle with an unsecured load will also increase from $500 to $1500 under the proposed new laws”
I hope the proposed new laws will be extended from the current laws which apparently don’t apply to tradies

2:56 am 10 Jun 19

Maybe we should change it to the Australian criminal territory and If i had my way i would double the taxes on cigarettes

10:56 am 08 Jun 19

Is it just ciggy butts that are $500? Or any littering?

10:46 am 08 Jun 19

Good. I’m a smoker and there’s never an excuse to dump a cigarette butt anywhere. If you can’t find a bin, put your cigarette out and put the butt back in the pack until later, or carry a portable ashtray.

7:03 am 08 Jun 19

Another money grab from a government spending like a drunk sailor.

maxblues 1:41 am 08 Jun 19

So if a dropped unlit cigarette results in a $500 fine, does a dropped pack of 40s mean a $20,000 fine?

10:40 pm 07 Jun 19

Do you think you could increase the number of butt out bins 10m left and right of licensed premises then? When smoking was banned within 6m of buildings, it seems there was an automatic assumption - oh well, they can't smoke with their beers anymore, we won't be needing these! I accept smoking is less socially acceptable than ice in polite society but not placing requirements for butt out bins adjacent pubs & clubs amplifies the laziness inherent in many smokers increasing the likelihood of a big butt problem.

10:36 pm 07 Jun 19

As I said before! I’m sure that the homeless will applaud this Magnificat gesture!

9:23 pm 07 Jun 19

Carnt keep importing people that want to kill us with out getting money from any working Australian paying one way or the other

9:14 pm 07 Jun 19

Michael Norton why can’t they see Forrest for trees just increase gst best revenue raiser and fairest

7:36 pm 07 Jun 19

About time

7:20 pm 07 Jun 19

The problem with this is "enforcement" - making a law that is rarely or not enforced is just simply a idiot thing to do and makes more useless laws. Also, this somewhat smacks of revenue raising by a bankrupt local council (oops...) ACT Govt.

6:15 pm 07 Jun 19

still remember your action Jane Gardiner and feel so proud of you!( not sure if YOU remember the fantastic example you gave my boys ? Thank you :) :) )

    6:28 pm 07 Jun 19

    Oh, I’m touched that you remember it, Judanne! But we can’t walk past when something is wrong, can we? Changing the world one choice at a time, right? 😊

5:43 pm 07 Jun 19

How will you decide what is litter and what is someone’s treasure? I know it says it won’t criminalize the mental illness of hoarding, but how will litter be defined? When does ‘stuff’ become litter? I recently visited a garden where the owners had creatively recycled much of what might be called ‘litter’ by some. This needs to be defined clearly before it is enforced.

5:34 pm 07 Jun 19

I smoke but if there is no bin and I have no personal container I put the butt out on the sole of my shoe and when it is cold put it back in my packet.

5:21 pm 07 Jun 19

Jessica. Let’s fine them 🤣

4:46 pm 07 Jun 19

How about fining the pollies for their waste during a election

4:44 pm 07 Jun 19

Danni looks like the house in Kaleen will rack up some more money

4:38 pm 07 Jun 19

Andrew Barr has obviously ran out of rainbow paint.

4:37 pm 07 Jun 19

Great. I don't buy the argument that "if there are no bins in my vicinity I can litter". If you smoke, that's fine, please carry a little ciggy butt container. Smokers have a right to smoke, not to discard waste anywhere they please.

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