City of Marion Shopping Trolley By-Law

City of Marion Shopping Trolley By-Law

The Legislative Review Committee put forward a motion to disallow this by-law in the chamber some time ago as a holding motion because the committee had a range of concerns with the by-law. The committee has been liaising with the Marion council on these concerns for some time. As Presiding Member, I would like to acknowledge the Marion council for their cooperation.

I would also like to acknowledge that the committee recognises that discarded or abandoned shopping trolleys represent a highly visible form of litter and have the potential to end up in waterways, be hazardous to people by obstructing roads or walkways and have a negative impact on the amenity of areas. It is also acknowledged that councils can be affected by clean-up costs associated with shopping trolleys.

However, the committee’s primary concern related to one of its scrutiny principles, which is whether the law impinges on personal rights and liberties and more specifically whether it is fair that an owner of an object is held responsible by the council for the theft and improper disposal of their property. This is a by-law that is the first of its kind in South Australia and therefore warrants discussion and debate within this chamber. I would like to acknowledge the Hon. Connie Bonaros, who also has a notice of motion to disallow this by-law. It is also worth noting that the by-law came into operational effect on 1 February. Consequently, whilst it would have been a preference not to bring the by-law to a vote in this chamber in such a swift manner, it was required.

I would like to formally state that the government’s position on this by-law is to support the disallowance motion. This is a by-law that seeks to penalise supermarkets if their trolleys are found abandoned in the council district. The by-law gives the council the power to impound abandoned trolleys and force retailers to pay a fee to release them. We the government argue that the owner of an object who has that object effectively stolen should not be penalised because the person who stole that object did not dispose of it properly.

Although not mandatory, the by-law also recommends shopping centres and supermarkets install a coin system or a wheel-lock system to prevent trolleys from leaving the premises as a defence. These systems all cost money, some considerable money, and again it puts responsibility on the retailer, not on those who steal and abandon the trolleys. I suspect some of these supermarkets would invest and are investing in these systems of their own accord. However, the defence of a supermarket should not be contingent on the purchase of these systems.

Whilst we do acknowledge that the by-law has the ability to penalise individuals for taking a trolley out of the precinct, the reality is that this would be extremely difficult to police. Therefore, the onus will likely fall on retailers and supermarkets. I think it is also important to acknowledge that abandoned trolleys are already considered litter, known as general litter, under the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016.

Therefore, if a person is found to be improperly disposing of a shopping trolley then there are already provisions in place for authorised officers to act on this. Under this act, expiation fees of $210 and penalties of up to $5,000 can apply. Authorised officers can also request that a litterer remove the litter and dispose of it correctly, and it is a further offence for failure to comply with this request.

In short, we are of the firm view that retailers such as Drakes and Foodland that are employing and creating jobs in our community should not be held responsible by the council for the theft and improper disposal of their property.


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