Better enforcement of littering and illegal dumping

Released 22/10/2019

Canberrans can expect better enforcement and penalties for people caught littering and illegally dumping with new laws passed in the Legislative Assembly today. The laws will also see the adoption of a better framework for addressing hoarding across the Territory.

Minister for City Services, Chris Steel said the new laws will holistically address littering, in every form it might occur.

“People who illegally dump waste around our city are on notice today. These laws and give greater power to authorities to deal individuals and businesses who choose who seek to spoil our environment or put the community at risk with illegal dumping and littering,” Minister Steel said.

“The new laws are easier to enforce, with infringement notices able to be issued to the owners of vehicles involved in illegal dumping, similar to speeding fines.”

Minister Steel said that cleaning up after illegal dumpers is a financial burden on ratepayers and the government spends $3 million a year cleaning up other people’s unwanted items.

The new laws will also see an increase to the fine for dropping a small item of litter like a ticket or a coffee cup. Offenders will now face a $150 fine, instead of $65, if caught doing the wrong thing.

Fines will escalate if you’re caught dropping items like a cigarette or a syringe with the introduction of a $500 fine. Minister Steel said the new aggravated littering offence sends a strong message to the community about the impact of these items on the city.

“Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter on the planet, and have a significant impact on the environment releasing toxic chemicals and microplastics,” Minister Steel said.

“With a hotter and drier climate, cigarettes present a real fire risk to our bush capital, with 13% of grass fires in the ACT started by cigarettes.”

Hoarding around the Territory will also be able to be better managed under this legislation, with the introduction of a staged approach addressing litter on private land.

“Hoarding can have serious safety risks to both to the occupants of the property with the hoarding issue and surrounding land. However we also know that cases of extreme hoarding on private land are complex and sensitive, and often involve underlying mental health issues.

“The laws allow the Government to enter a site to clean-up and abate the hoarding of litter when all other actions have been unsuccessful. Appropriate processes must be followed, including following a mandatory code of practice and an application to the ACT Magistrates Court.

“Importantly, this framework does not criminalise the complex mental health issue of hoarding and we will work closely with mental health and community organisations and experts in dealing with individual matters and the development of a code of practice,” Minister Steel said.

For more information on disposing unwanted items visit

- Statement ends -

Section: Chris Steel, MLA | Media Releases

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