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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Greens and Liberals band together on sound law reform

Late last month, the ACT Government released a suite of reforms to the Territory’s sound laws on the same day the Greens and Liberals passed a separate motion on the matter.

The government’s reforms included: extending noise limits on Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm to midnight in the city and town centres, and 11pm in group centres such as Dickson or Kingston; tasking the National Capital Design Review Panel to consider acoustic amenity when reviewing mixed-use developments; and providing noise limit information on ACT Government maps.

These amendments were labelled ‘insignificant’ by peak body Music ACT President, Dave Caffery.

“The Government released some light touch changes that wouldn’t even permit jazz in the NewActon Courtyard,” Mr Caffery said.

The motion presented by Shadow Minister for Planning Mark Parton to the ACT Legislative Assembly on 31 July called on the Government to: designate specific areas and precincts around the ACT as entertainment zones; provide flexibility in allowable noise levels in these zones; introduce order of occupancy laws in designated entertainment zones; and increase the standards and requirements for noise insulation and abatement for new buildings in designated precincts.

Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur added to Mr Parton’s motion, calling on the Government to: release an action plan for live entertainment by 31 October 2019; deliver the first stage of this action plan, including consultation on possible areas and precincts, by 31 July 2020; and update the Assembly and community on progress by 31 July 2020.

“I support the changes announced by Mr Gentleman but they fall a mile short of what is required,” Mr Parton told the Assembly.

“Our noise level regulations, our venue licensing conditions and zoning rules, along with the apathetic attitude of this government, ensure persistent suppression of opportunity and limitations on permissible locations for live music to flourish.”

Mr Parton urged a sensible approach toward reform is required.

“People have the right to quiet enjoyment of their place of residence … But likewise, we should be providing venues, localities and precincts where perhaps higher, but sensible, sound outputs may be permissible,” he said.

The Greens and Liberals motion passed with the support of the ACT Government.

Mr Caffery championed the Greens and Liberals motion, and said the time has well and truly come for sound law reform after numerous reviews, studies and reports on this issue.

“Perhaps the planning department was not ready for this motion, but they should have been after a decade of reports saying this is essential to save music as apartments are peppered in every part of the city.”

The Government said they are continuing to work to identify suitable locations for special entertainment precincts in the ACT Planning Review.

“We thank the music and arts community for their feedback so far and will continue to engage with them about issues such as live performances and events as part of our ACT Planning review consultations,” Mr Gentleman said.

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