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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2073..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

enforcement regime is parallel in the OH&S Act and, along with the right of entry provisions for registered employer and employee organisations, is the focus of the current review provisions in the act.

The review of the Dangerous Substances Act is required to commence as soon as possible after 30 June 2005 and the review of the OH&S Act is required to commence as soon as possible after 30 June 2007. The government is of the view that there are potential synergies and economic efficiencies in aligning the timing of the two reviews. It would be most appropriate for these to commence in 2007. This will ensure that the dangerous substances legislation has operated for a reasonable period and that the review will be able to make a thorough assessment and reach useful conclusions.

Section 224 of the Dangerous Substances Act presently requires that reviewer must not be a public employee employed in an administrative unit that is responsible for the administration of this act or the OH&S Act, nor should the reviewer be subject to direction by the minister or the chief executive in carrying out the review. A similar review provision is found at section 230 of the OH&S Act.

Many jurisdictions now legislate requirements for the review of the operation and effectiveness of new legislation after a fixed period, commonly five years. By and large, the arrangements and terms of references for a legislative review are a matter for the minister. This has generally been the case in the ACT as well. While the government is committed to the reviews of both the Dangerous Substances Act and the OH&S Act, it questions the need for the current specific requirements regarding arrangements of their conduct. The exclusion of public servants involved in the administration of the legislation in the role of reviewer unnecessarily limits the options a minister may wish to consider in establishing a review process. The current requirements could potentially impose considerable costs on the conduct of a review through the need to engage an independent reviewer.

The public servants who develop this legislation are experts in the area and their core duty is to develop and evaluate the appropriate legislative regimes. The work of an independent reviewer will undoubtedly duplicate much of this work. The merits of an independent review and the public expense it will attract should be a matter for the minister to take into consideration when a review is being set up. The government recognises that a serious review exercise requires the reviewer to proceed in an objective and impartial manner. This imperative should inform the conduct of all reviews. A requirement that the reviewer not be subject to direction by the minister or chief executive when carrying out the review, however, is not representative of the general approach to legislative reviews. This could place unnecessary constraints in the framing of the review's terms of reference and its arrangements, which go beyond the objectivity, and independence of the findings. This requirement is also the subject of amendment in the bill.

Finally, the Occupational Health and Safety Legislation Amendment Bill also introduced technical amendments to the Long Service Leave Act 1976 to remedy unintended changes to the treatment of service by the passage on 6 May 2005 of the Long Services Amendment Act 2005. In late May 2005, the Housing Industry Association alerted my office to the consequences of changes to the treatment of temporary service outside the


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