ACT News

Government set to extend smoking bans, hand more powers to police on domestic violence

​The government will extend smoking bans in Canberra, allowing the minister to declare public spaces and events smoke free, Chief Minister Andrew Barr has foreshadowed.

Outlining his agenda for the coming months, Mr Barr said the wider smoking bans would fulfil an election commitment.

Queensland has already introduced tough anti-smoking laws.
Queensland has already introduced tough anti-smoking laws. Photo: Tamara Voninski

It is understood the proposed legislation won't declare new smoke-free areas but will instead empower the health minister to declare smoke-free zones.

Proposals released for comment late last year envisaged banning smoking at public play spaces and playgrounds, skate parks, bus stops, the entrances to public buildings, sporting events, and privately owned outdoor pools.

The government is focused on areas where children spend time and on outdoor places where people can't easily move away from smokers without leaving the event. 

Smoking is already banned in enclosed public places, in outdoor restaurants and bars, at underage music functions and in cars when children are present. Smoking is also banned on the grounds of ACT hospitals and health facilities, at the Australian National University, at Manuka Oval and at the Bruce stadium.

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But the ACT has fewer smoke-free areas than many other states, according to the government, with most other states already creating smoke-free areas at  playgrounds, bus and train stops, building entrances and outdoor pools.

Last year's discussion paper raised the possibility that the extended bans on smoking in public places could apply across the board or only at certain times or only in certain areas.

Health Minister Simon Corbell has pointed to the danger of second-hand smoke which could cause lung cancer and heart disease and be especially harmful to children. 

Last year, Mr Corbell also foreshadowed the possibility of laws to stop people smoking adjacent to the Canberra Hospital, dealing with the problem of smokers moving to the perimeter of hospital grounds since the hospital and grounds went smoke free.

Mr Barr said he would also bring forward a new red-tape reduction package to remove costs and requirements on business. He wanted to "let businesses strengthen their operations, expand their services, and employ more people – not waste time dealing with the bureaucracy".

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman was working on changes to the process for development applications and changes to the Territory Plan with the aim of "significantly cutting red tape holding up worthy developments and stymieing construction jobs growth".

The government is also set to begin community consultation on expanding the role of the Ombudsman in cases of institutional sex abuse. All cases of "reportable conduct" would go to the Ombudsman, who would be given power to investigate any allegations against people who provide services involving children, Mr Barr said.

Mr Corbell would introduce new laws covering victims of crime, and giving new power to police to stop domestic violence as well as new protection for victims, especially children.

Shane Rattenbury would introduce new road safety laws.