Advertising road closures for events by website and social media
It had long been the case that, where a council made an order under delegated authority of the Minister pursuant to Section 33 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 to close a road for the purpose of an event, the council was required to give notice of the closure in a newspaper or, in some cases, multiple newspapers. While in practice councils also advertised road closures on council websites and social media, it was still necessary to advertise in a newspaper (or newspapers) in order to satisfy legislative obligations.
In 2022, the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 (Regulations) were varied so as to allow the Minister (and thus also councils acting under delegated authority from the Minister) to utilise websites and/or social media platforms “determined by the Minister” for the purposes of advertising road closures for declared events, instead of (or as well as) advertising by newspaper. While this variation to the Regulations has generally been welcomed, it is in our view unclear whether councils are able to make their own determinations as to what website and/or social media platforms they can use. That is, it is unclear whether the power to determine a website or social media platform forms part of the delegation from the Minister to councils.
However, it is no longer practically necessary to resolve this ambiguity, in light of the Notice of Determination of Website and Social Media Services (Notice) published by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport earlier this year (available here).
In the Notice, the Minister determines that a council may use its “official website” and/or “official Facebook page” for the purpose of advertising under the Regulations. Therefore, on the basis that every council does indeed have an official website and official Facebook page, councils can now rely upon the Minister’s determination to use that website and/or Facebook page to satisfy their legislative advertising obligations. It is worth noting that although a council can also use other social media platforms to supplement their advertising, it is only the council’s Facebook page which has status under the Notice as an available means of satisfying legislative advertising obligations.
Councils should ensure that they are familiar with all aspects of the new advertising requirements, and that procedures and template documents regarding road closures are up-to-date. Should you require advice or assistance regarding any of the matters raised in this article, please contact Dale Mazzachi on 8210 1221 or DMazzachi@normans.com.auor Chris Alexandrides on 8210 1299 or CAlexandrides@normans.com.au.