Hard Rubbish Confusion

If there’s any doubt over whether ordinary people can collect items abandoned by fellow-citizens and left on the nature-strip as hard rubbish for their council to collect – and based on statements by various police members yesterday, it appears there’s a bit of confusion in the force on the subject – then parliament should promptly legislate to clear that up.

If there’s any possibility that councils can successfully declare via by-laws that all property on nature strips belongs to them, the Crimes Act 1958 should be amended to specify – if section 73(2) doesn’t make it clear already – that it is no offence to collect material abandoned by homeowners in a public place, with the obvious intention of it being treated as rubbish and collected or recycled, regardless of any local by-laws to the contrary. That law should be consistent around the state, not vary council to council.

As for the argument that councils will have to pay for rubbish collection if the contractors are losing “the best stuff” – well, maybe. The metals etc still have value. But if not – well, that’s what rates are for. Council services like rubbish collection.

Of course it’s much better for the community that items are immediately recycled than eventually dumped in landfill. Only a lazy council, a profiteer company that wants the stuff for itself, or someone with absolute contempt for the poor, would argue they should be charged with a criminal offence for doing just that.

12 responses to “Hard Rubbish Confusion

  1. I agree Jeremy — this whole episode is a complete farce.
    In case it escaped the notice of the coppers involved, the body of a murdered father of 5 was found not too far away from Chirnside Park, I’d suggest they have more important issues to concern themselves with.

    As to contractors losing the good stuff — our council says its illegal to take items too, but the contractors who collect it throw it all in the back of a garbage truck which crushes the lot, they don’t keep anything out for possible re-use or re-sale.

  2. narcoticmusing

    Jeremy, surely you are not advocating that the re-use of a product for someone who genuinely needs it, is superior to a company stripping any metals from it and discarding the rest for profit? I mean, when someone discards this crap, they obviously intended it only go towards profit of a contractor they already pay through their rates anyway – it isn’t at all because they can no longer donate functional electronics to charities (who now seem to be too afraid to accept electrical goods as donations because some bastard must have sued them for his free appliance).

  3. “To a good home or the dump”. I recall putting some hard rubbish out a few years ago – some drawers and a broken oil heater. The drawers ended up on a pile 2 doors up the street when the neighbours took a shine to them, and then decided they didn’t want them after all. Good on them.

    The space heater – which I marked as broken – a pair of electrical tradies in a ute came along, clipped off the power cord and continued on up the street clipping off power cords from other appliances. That got me mad – if a needy person had come along, the appliances would have been useless. Deliberate destruction, for a handful of copper wiring.

    I hope they electrocuted themselves reusing the tattered wire – it was Grandma’s 50 year old oil heater after all, certainly not up to modern electrical standards.

  4. Local councils can pass by-laws for whatever they like – as long as nobody tries to contest it.
    I’m not sure what you could do to 73(2) of the Crimes Act to make it any MORE cut and dried. In any case, councils know that the bulk of their by-laws wouldn’t survive even the most casual court scrutiny.

    They just gamble on you (the ratepayer) NOT knowing that.

  5. narcoticmusing

    IMO the point of s73(2) is to not be too cut and dry – yes it is relatively straight forward but it also attempts to recognise that sometimes things just are misunderstandings, particularly in the face of uncertain/inconsistent by-laws.

  6. this year’s haul was a nice big TV with DVD for the boys out the back at work who were still using an old black and white set, a lovely wooden chest with “water damage” (i think the owner just wanted it out of his house) that is now in the garage holding umbrellas and the like, and a cool old wooden chair for use as a prop in photos…

    f**k the council, my $2k/year rates include rubbish collection.

    f**k them in their useless a**es.

    (oh, and to the people who chop off the power cords on TVs, you wasted a heap of my time you f**kholes).

  7. This is a reaction to the metal thieves who trawl the neighbourhood in three tonne trucks and steal all the metal items.
    Hard rubbish collections are contracted out and the assumed value of metal collected is taken into consideration when setting the price.
    If Steptoe and Son strip all the metal from the pile then the contractors will raise their price and the ratepayers will have to wear it.

    Having said that, this story is about one bloke who took one vacuum cleaner, FFS. That not a crime, that’s a national past time!


  8. The whole episode made the Police look a tad foolish. Full marks to the Superintendent who applied some common sense. Which is not always readily applied in government and semi government circles. Like the Council that regards children drawing pictures on paths in chalk as graffitists. 😮

    With respect to the legal niceties, for mine the law isn’t as clear cut as it might be. Just how one can accurately determines “in the belief” I’m not so sure.

  9. what most bothered me when i read this story was – were the police using their own judgement to arrest this guy or were they acting on orders?

    either way it kind of makes me think the force reckons this is a police state

  10. Our council used to have a line in their hard rubbish notification stating that taking hard rubbish was illegal. Of course that was just a red rag to a bull. I was out there gathering just waiting for a council worker or police to have to embarress themselves by stopping me and telling me that picking up rubbish was somehow illegal.

    Never happened.

    I notice that line has been removed from the notification in the last couple of years.

  11. Hard rubbish collection time is like living in a third world slum. People dump their crap out way too early and the divers spread it all over the footpath and the road. And they also put out too much. And they also put out stuff that is definitely not classed as “hard rubbish” (unless you remove the word “hard”). We have to put with over a month of filthy, untidy streets.

    Our council is moving to an appointments-based system and not before time. At last we’ll have clear streets and no “cheaters” trying to put their old gear in front of someone else’s house (which has happened to us on countless occasions).

    And for those who like the idea of hard rubbish time because you can pick up some good free gear, TOUGH. If you want to go down the recycling / freeganing path, then advertise / search or use sites like Freecycle: that’s what they are for. Yes, it’s more effort, but don’t expect me to sympathise.

  12. narcoticmusing

    I have to admit i hate the look of the streets lined with rubbish for weeks – although in the council I was in previously, it was because they never turned up on the date – the date was more a ‘guide’ and everyone would put stuff out the day before the date and it wouldn’t be collected for 4-6weeks.

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