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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7995


Senator MURRAY (9:43 PM) —Last on the list on sheet 2776 revised is amendment (4). I suppose one of the downsides—although that is probably an odd way to express it—of being both a multicultural country and a country which attracts literally millions of visitors for whom English is not a first language is, of course, the need to provide signage and the cost that goes with that signage to inform them as to the nature of activities. When you come from the part of the world I do, you know that there are people from Europe who arrive in an African area, see some wild elephants and get out of the car to feed them buns—then you find bits of them stuck in a tree days later. In other words, because they are not used to elephants in Switzerland and there are not any signs saying `Do not feed the elephants', bad things result. I assume the same thing can happen to somebody who is not an Australian who comes here.

My proposed amendment seeks to indicate that suppliers supplying recreational services should provide appropriate signage. You have to be careful because, if you go too far with that, they would have to provide signs for every possible thing, and that is patently stupid. So we have attempted to constrain the extent of the requirement by saying that it must be an inherently risky activity. Ideally the risks that consumers should be assuming are those that are inherent to the activity and not those risks that would not be expected in any given activity. We are mindful that the amendment does need to be restrained. You do not need a sign that says, `Don't walk off the cliff,' because any damn fool should be able to see that that is an inherently risky thing to do. But there are activities which do need proper signage. A recent case—Minister, you would know it better than I—which put some boundaries on how far local authorities can be dragged in terms of litigation was a useful one. Hopefully this is better constrained than it might otherwise have been. I move Democrat amendment (4) on sheet 2776 revised:

(4) Schedule 1, item 1, page 4 (after line 18), at the end of section 68B, add:

(5) Where a corporation supplying recreational services seeks to rely on the operation of this section and the activity is prescribed in the regulations as an inherently risky activity, the waiver, exclusion, restriction or modification must be:

(a) written in plain English or such other language as may be required where a significant proportion of users of the service are non-English speakers; and

(b) explained to the person assuming the risk including to non-English speakers; and

(c) signed by the person assuming the risk.