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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4207..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

recognises the dangers of asbestos and the need to remove asbestos and safeguard public health and safety through a legislated statement.

It broadens the focus to all built structures regardless of use. It provides for a public education campaign to increase public awareness across the board; it codifies broad duties to inform and to undertake inspections in specified circumstances; and it establishes a whole-of-government task force to analyse the magnitude of the asbestos problem in the territory, identify the risks, and identify strategies for managing those risks.

Last week the government presented an exposure draft for new regulations under the Dangerous Substances (General) Regulations 2004, which proposed that the government conduct an involved empirical study on asbestos and its risks. This proposal has now been incorporated into the government's proposed amendments, through the creation of the task force.

The government is concerned about asbestos and is determined to put the ACT at the forefront of Australia in grasping the issues fundamentally. No government in Australia has attempted to deal with asbestos so comprehensively. Unfortunately the bill, as presented in its current form, would not do this. While I pay due respect to Mrs Cross for the work she has put into this legislation and the goodwill she has shown in working together over the past week to put together some amendments to make the bill more effective, we need to move these amendments. It is for that reason that the government is proposing significant amendments to the bill but, with those amendments, the government will be supporting Mrs Cross's bill in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (8.28): Mr Speaker, the opposition will be supporting Mrs Cross's bill and indeed most of the government amendments to it. There are some three clauses we have some concerns with. I will indicate at this stage that, when we get to the government's amendment No 3 to the bill, we would like that done clause by clause. I think that would be tidier. I see the minister nodding.

Mr Speaker, you, Mr Wood and I are the only members of this place who were members of the First Assembly. Like you, I had a little bit of time out. I do remember very vividly a very good initiative taken then as a result of asbestos in the roofs of Canberra homes. It was a very big undertaking and a lot of work was done in planning for it. I think fundamentally it worked very well. It has actually ensured that the ACT is far more in front than a number of our state colleagues when it comes to asbestos and controlling the problems arising from asbestos. There has been a significant history in the ACT in relation to it.

Asbestos is a particularly nasty product. James Hardie has a hell of a lot to answer for. Asbestos does kill. Before 1983 it was used a lot in Canberra homes. I think a lot has been done, as I said, to mitigate the worst aspects of it, through removing the asbestos in the roofs of many Canberra homes. You can get certificates to say that that has occurred. That is for conveyancing. I think that was, as I said, a good project.

Asbestos-and I have learned a fair bit about it and had my memory refreshed a bit during this particular process-if left alone is okay. If it is not left alone it needs to be


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