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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 3061..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

In the residential sector the section 47J requirement placed on owner/occupiers to provide written information on what they know is to be replaced with the provision of generic advice at key transaction points for homes built prior to 1985. The generic advice has been derived from a survey of over 600 houses and provides more useful and accurate information on likely locations of asbestos materials in and around the home.

The mandatory requirement for asbestos surveys under 47K and 47L will be removed and replaced by generic advice. Surveys will become an option for the property owner to pursue if they choose. Coupled with better training for tradespeople to identify and work with asbestos, and community education, these measures will provide suitable and practical management approaches for the residential sector. These approaches will also remove the possible negative impact of asbestos reports on property values, the cost to property owners and significantly diminish the risk of personal liability that might accrue to owner/occupiers.

In the non-residential sector, owners will be required by legislation to establish asbestos registers and active asbestos management plans, and make these available to tradespeople and buyers at the point of sale. These approaches are currently considered to be best practice and are endorsed by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission. However, despite this, the practice has been largely ignored at the local level. The recommendations of the task force offer a more effective way of providing information than the current legislation and reinforce the accepted national standard for asbestos management in workplaces.

To complement these regimes, the task force proposes an increased emphasis on the safe management of high-risk activities, with education, training and awareness programs provided for those groups that regularly undertake high-risk activities with MCAs, namely tradespeople and do-it-yourself home renovators. Regardless of the law, tradespeople handle asbestos as part of their daily work activities. A new asbestos certificate of competency will be developed which will authorise trade groups to handle a limited amount of asbestos.

Targeted awareness and education will be provided for do-it-yourself home renovators so that they are aware of the right pathways to advice and services. Restrictions will also be placed on the scope of activities they can undertake with MCAs in order to reduce the incidences of people working with asbestos materials without adequate training and protection. Minimum training and operating standards for asbestos assessors and surveyors are also proposed to ensure greater consistency and reliability in the identification and assessment of asbestos. This will provide a much higher level of accountability and assurance than exists at present here, or in any other jurisdiction.

The task force has recommended a more practical, cost-effective and balanced approach to the management of asbestos in the ACT. The task force report contains 25 recommendations across the following five areas: awareness and education, assessment and management, training, legislation, and monitoring and review. The government has reviewed these recommendations and I table today the government response to the report. The government has agreed, or agreed in principle, to the vast majority of the recommendations. The government supports the broad intentions of those recommendations that are agreed in principle. Over the coming months further


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