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

Glynis Quinlan 7 June 2019 46

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 www.act.gov.au/recyclopaedia


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46 Responses to Dropping a cigarette butt could soon cost $500, while it’s $1500 for not securing a load
Matthew Pez Matthew Pez 1:36 pm 07 Jun 19

How are they going to catch them?

Peter Martel Peter Martel 1:37 pm 07 Jun 19

Yeah righto

Jodie Ruth Jodie Ruth 1:37 pm 07 Jun 19

I wish this was enforced... along with people smoking at bus stops.

    TrishnBill Palmer TrishnBill Palmer 3:40 pm 07 Jun 19

    Oh yes please.

    Jackie Fuller Jackie Fuller 4:15 pm 07 Jun 19

    Jodie Ruth is it illegal to smoke at a bus stop?

    Jodie Ruth Jodie Ruth 4:21 pm 07 Jun 19

    Jackie Fuller yes, it is illegal to smoke within 5m of a bus stop. Unless they repealed that quietly as it's almost impossible to enforce.

    Mat Barber Mat Barber 8:47 pm 07 Jun 19

    And light rail and train station, same in NSW, although in NSW you can be fined by police, transport officers and NSW Health officials

    Natalie Brown Natalie Brown 5:17 pm 10 Jun 19

    Jodie Ruth absolutely!!!!! And kids sports grounds!!!

Janet Mulgrue Janet Mulgrue 1:51 pm 07 Jun 19

Now enforce it. We live adjacent to Canberra nature park and people dump rubbish there all the time.

Cathy Dearnley Cathy Dearnley 1:58 pm 07 Jun 19

Let's just make this the fine capital and leave the rates alone?

Jeremy Calero Jeremy Calero 2:22 pm 07 Jun 19

Easy solution would be to provide ash tray bins through out the city...

would also upset people less.

Darron Marks Darron Marks 2:37 pm 07 Jun 19

Looks like this reality is closer than you think 🤣


Tasha Krahe Tasha Krahe 2:42 pm 07 Jun 19

Sammy Krahe watch your butts!

Kay Allen Kay Allen 2:43 pm 07 Jun 19

Michelle Colman re your neighbour

Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 3:29 pm 07 Jun 19

What about the rubbish that “blows” off building sites and the back of utes?

Jim Jim Jim Jim 3:51 pm 07 Jun 19

I get the whole ‘reducing and deterring littering in our community’ rhetoric but when you ad the timing of this announcement to the recently announced 7% av. rate increase etc rampant revenue raising springs to mind...

Romy Southwell Romy Southwell 3:59 pm 07 Jun 19

I am not a smoker, but how about you do what other countries do and supply more bins with ashtrays around the shopping area?

    Julia Ross Julia Ross 4:04 pm 07 Jun 19

    The ACT government's reply would be "then we will have to employ someone to empty them". That's why there are no bins around the lake.

    Mathew Mendo Mathew Mendo 5:43 pm 07 Jun 19

    Romy Southwell absolutely, the way prices have hiked up over recent years due to the government's greedy taxation they should put some of it back into putting in more bins rather than putting it in pollies pockets

Amanda Adams Amanda Adams 4:17 pm 07 Jun 19

I try to do the right thing and don’t litter ,however there is usually no where to butt out ,they keep taking them away ,lucky I carry my own little ash tray .what do you think most are going to do,if they have nowhere to dispose there butts ,it’s ridiculous. Give the smokers some where to butt out and most responsible smokers won’t litter ,problems would be solved it’s not rocket science

    Ancel Earle Franklin Ancel Earle Franklin 4:48 pm 07 Jun 19

    Amanda Adams having seen the literal hundreds of butts on the ground where all the smokers hang near my work, which also has a bin right there, I don’t really buy that argument.

    Amanda Adams Amanda Adams 5:00 pm 07 Jun 19

    Ancel Earle Franklin yes agree ,however I’ve seen smokers on there break,from supermarket and other shops ,and there are no bins,ash trays etc they have put rubbish bins away from where most people exit shopping centres ,really not trying to stop littering food wrappers from takeaway s all over the ground it’s not just smokes who litter I suggest you have a look,and also the litter in streets by old chronicles thrown along our streets and no one has picked them up , weeks and weeks maybe even years since that’s also litter,what are the fines for that?

    Mathew Mendo Mathew Mendo 5:40 pm 07 Jun 19

    Amanda Adams 💯% the massive hike in cigarette taxes over the years warrant the government to make more of an effort.

    Amanda Adams Amanda Adams 6:08 pm 07 Jun 19

    Mathew Mendo so true

Kerrie Biilmann Kerrie Biilmann 4:44 pm 07 Jun 19

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

Michael Richer Michael Richer 4:46 pm 07 Jun 19

How about fining the pollies for their waste during a election

Danni Farlow Danni Farlow 5:21 pm 07 Jun 19

Jessica. Let’s fine them 🤣

Julie Coker-Godson Julie Coker-Godson 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.

Lynne Audsley Lynne Audsley 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.

Judanne Young Judanne Young 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 :) :) )

    Jane Gardiner Jane Gardiner 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? 😊

Ray Young Ray Young 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.

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