New laws to better protect our heritage

Released 19/08/2019

People who damage heritage places and objects in Canberra will face stronger penalties and may be required to repair damage in upcoming reforms from the ACT Government.

New legislation being introduced to the Legislative Assembly later this year would give the Heritage Council the power to issue ‘repair damage directions’ to people to repair damage they’ve done to heritage places and objects, such as heritage houses and Aboriginal cultural sites.

The Canberra community has told us they want more effective and flexible ways to deal with breaches of the Heritage Act and damage to heritage places and objects.

The Government is committed to preserving heritage places and objects for current and future generations.

The current big stick option of prosecution can be costly, drawn out and inflexible, meaning people may get away with causing minor damage.

The Government is proposing an infringement notice scheme where compliance officers can issue an immediate $1000 fine for damage to a heritage place, regardless of whether it can be repaired.

On-the-spot fines would act as a deterrent to discourage people from causing damage deliberately or accidently. The amendments would enable immediate action when a heritage place or object is damaged.

New processes would cut red tape and give the Heritage Council more flexibility in dealing with problems, allowing quicker, more appropriate outcomes.

We want to give the Heritage Council authority to issue a direction where there is an imminent threat to the heritage significance of a place or object. The current threshold wording of ‘serious’ would be removed so heritage directions will be able to be issued for minor to moderate offences.

We are also working to improve community understanding of the value of heritage places and encourage community custodianship of our community’s heritage assets.

A new compliance policy will be released later this year to guide the Heritage Council and compliance officers on how and when to use the new compliance tools.

- Statement ends -

Section: Mick Gentleman, MLA | Media Releases

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