As CWA of NSW president, I've had the privilege of travelling across our beautiful state, meeting with communities, and experiencing firsthand the unique challenges that rural and regional areas face.
One issue that captured my attention and, in fact, alarmed me greatly is the problem of abandoned vehicles that plague our countryside.
This issue is more than just an eyesore; it is a pressing concern that affects the safety, aesthetics, and well-being of our communities in rural and regional NSW.
Abandoned vehicles have become an increasingly common sight on the roads and in open spaces of our rural and regional communities.
While there is no official data available on the exact number of abandoned vehicles, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.
One of the most pressing concerns these discarded cars pose is to public safety.
As these cars are left to decay, they not only become an eyesore but are also a potential source of danger. Vandalism, theft, and even arson can turn these vehicles into ticking time bombs.
The sight of burnt-out cars in our countryside is not only disheartening but also a stark reminder of the safety hazards they represent.
In a state that is no stranger to bushfires, the presence of abandoned vehicles near dry grass and woodlands is particularly worrisome. During the scorching Australian summers, these vehicles can serve as kindling for devastating fires.
In 2021, the NSW government introduced new laws that put accountability firmly on those responsible to do the right thing and remove their property from public land immediately if causing an obstruction or safety risk, three days if unregistered, or registered but unable to be legally driven and left unattended in one place for more than 15 days and, 15 days if registered and left unattended in one place for more than 28 days.
Penalties for abandoning vehicles in NSW include fines of up to $660, with additional consequences if the matter goes to court.
While these penalties may act as a deterrent, more needs to be done to prevent the problem at its root.
It is crucial we raise awareness about the issue and inform communities about the potential hazards, not just to public safety but also to our environment.
We need to ensure that local councils and land authorities expedite removal within the specified timeframes, and we need to encourage responsible vehicle ownership.
It is not enough to rely solely on penalties and enforcement; we must promote a culture of accountability.
The safety and well-being of our communities is at stake, and it is our collective responsibility to work in collaboration with local councils, public land authorities, and law enforcement to develop effective strategies to prevent the abandonment of vehicles and to ensure our beautiful countryside remains safe and unspoiled.
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