Noise is simply defined as “any unwanted sound.”
Our society is increasingly noisy and the adverse effects of noise are proving
increasingly distressing and harmful to many citizens.
Fortunately, the health hazard called Noise is being increasingly perceived by the
world's professional health authorities as such, but as yet with minimal priority -
perhaps because Noise is an extremely elusive pollutant.
Noise can't be caught, gathered or contained once it's been let loose. Once it escapes
it travels at 340 metres per second, and even if we could run this fast to catch it we
cannot chase it omnidirectionally. If Noise was malicious and had a voice it would be
Each state has laws for the diminution or control of noise. Your Commission might
make further recommendations for Noise control.
But without the use of the word “must” in the legislation, most or all laws for Noise
control (including that from barking dogs) will remain as useless and ineffective as
extant laws because there is virtually no enforcement anywhere.
This is the vexing dilemma that so commonly affronts those lodging formal complaints
for the restoration of peace in their vicinity.
Although councils and the police are generally the statewide appointed enforcement
authorities for Noise control, neither will do it. Why not? Because they don't want to!
There are very few exceptions to this ubiquitous conspiracy of wilful inaction. Worse,
these so-called law enforcement bodies will often side with the offender and urge the
victim to move out rather than implement the procedures for relief provided to them
Why do these so-called enforcement authorities so blatantly and commonly defy duty
like this? It is because they have so little trust in our legal system.
The standard of proof required by our Courts can be so high (and of course that's a
wonderful protection for the innocent) that regulatory agents such as police officers
and appropriately-delegated council staff won't access them for fear of prosecution
failure - with its attendant financial and time costs and hierarchical loss of face.
These agents of Noise control have found perennial refuge in the Caves of Pretend.
When alerted to lawbreaking they pretend, if they indolently bother themselves
enough to visit the area at all, that there's not really a problem, or that there's
underlying animosities between neighbours, or that there's nothing they can do. I
suspect that the unspoken root of this abnegation of duty is often simple cowardice
but also that there's the underlying fear of job loss should something go unpredictably
awry in any intervention or subsequent prosecution. This is why senior officers in the
police forces and in councils, in taking into acount the probability of success, refuse to
insist that junior officers actually do what they are paid for - and what the suffering
public expects and often desperately needs of them.
A common consequence of this universal dereliction of duty is the increase in
neighbourhood warzones with more and more people having to relocate - or deal with
the offender (or his dog) unlawfully.
People are dying, and being killed, over Noise
issues deliberately left unresolved by the appointed local authority. I regard that as
In relation to the adverse health affects of Noise, it seems to me that there can be no
improvement in the nation's wellbeing and its continued slide into noise hell until
enforcement of the Noise laws is allocated the importance it deserves - and that
efficient and reliable prophylactic procedures to deal with Noise complaints are
implemented accordingly, and promptly.
In the nation's suburbs I define “promptly” as “within one hour.”
2nd June, 2008
The National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission,
PO Box 685,
Woden, ACT 2606
A SUBMISSION on NOXIOUS NOISE
from a Tasmanian quietist