The Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Act 2021 and accompanying Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Regulation 2022 came into force on 1 November 2022.
These new laws repeal and replace the outdated Impounding Act 1993 and help protect our valuable public spaces from abandoned and unattended items. The new laws provide councils and other public land managers with stronger powers and penalties to clear our footpaths, streets, parks, bushland and waterways of abandoned and unattended property. It also creates a strong incentive for people to take responsibility for their property in public, including vehicles, shopping trolleys and share bikes.
Under the new laws owners and others responsible for private property left in public, such as shopping trolleys, unregistered and abandoned cars, unattended trailers and share bikes, face stronger regulatory action if they do not remove their property within risk-based timeframes. To allow the public and businesses to become familiar and comply with the new laws, a grace period will apply until 1 May 2023 for some penalties. Warnings, rather than fines, may be issued for certain items to which new rules apply if they are left unattended in public places, including shopping trolleys.
These reforms were developed following widespread consultation with councils, members of the public, industry/business groups, retailers, peak bodies and government agencies.
The commencement of the new Act will be supported by sensible regulations, guidelines, fact sheets and other information for industry, councils and the community. Further information about the new laws and what they mean for you can be found at the Department of Planning and Environment website.