ACT News

$300 fine for throwing a lit cigarette out the car window

Anyone who throws a lit cigarette out a car window could face an on-the-spot fine of $300 under new measures to be introduced by the ACT Government on Thursday ahead of the bushfire season.

The new measures also clarify the power of emergency services controllers to close schools and other premises, after uncertainty during the Mitchell chemical fire about who had the power to close private schools.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the Government had closed public schools and private schools had closed voluntarily during the Mitchell chemical fire, but the emergency had highlighted the lack of clear legal authority to close a private school. That was now being clarified, he said, confirming the power would also extend to other premises.

Emergency service personnel would be able to close any property, including land, structures or vehicles, to protect or preserve life.

The power would also apply ahead of an emergency, with emergency services having the power to close premises at time of high threat.

Mr Corbell did not release the legislation, which will be tabled on Thursday, so the detail has not yet been made available. But he said it would increase the fine for throwing alit cigarette out a car window from $200 to $300.

"It is the case that cigarette butts do present a potential fire risk, particularly on occasions of high fire danger or extreme fire danger," he said. "So this is to remind the community of the seriousness of it and the potentially catastrophic consequences it can have."

The laws would also clarify the emergency commissioner's power to direct chief officers, ensuring a coordinated response to emergencies, he said.

And it would expand the powers of a controller so they could control essential services, such as electricity, gas, fuel, food and water, during an emergency.

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