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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 8 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 3125..


(22) This training is incorporated in the three week Sexual Offences Investigation Program and is addressed under the ICARE program.

Asbestos

(Question No 2064)

DR FOSKEY asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 6 May 2008:

(1) What mechanisms are available to ACT residents to report asbestos, or suspected asbestos, on their property or the properties of their neighbours;

(2) What response is required from WorkCover when a report of asbestos, or suspected asbestos, is received;

(3) What mechanisms are available to ACT residents who have been exposed to asbestos, especially in situations where a report to WorkCover has been made but no action has been taken to safely remove the asbestos.

Mr Corbell: The answer to the member's question is as follows:

(1) ACT residents can report asbestos or suspected asbestos to The Office of Regulatory Services (ORS), WorkCover by calling the general inquires telephone number (62050200), or by sending an email (workcover@act.gov.au) or in person at Callam Offices, Easty Street, Phillip. It should be noted however that there is no obligation or requirements for the general public to report the presence of asbestos.

(2) ORS's role in relation to asbestos is exercised under the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 (the DSA). The DSA places a general safety duty on everyone to take all reasonable steps to minimise the risks resulting from handling dangerous substances. Asbestos is a dangerous substance and handling includes possessing or being in custody or control of the substance.

While the use of all forms of asbestos has been banned nationally since 31 December 2003, the DSA does not require that asbestos be removed where it is present. I am advised that where it is in a bonded state and not degraded, asbestos does not pose a risk to health.

Inspectors have a range of powers that may be exercised where there is a suspicion of asbestos that may pose a risk to health and safety including gaining entry to the premises and seizure/removal of materials for sampling. Inspectors also have a variety of enforcement tools under the DSA including compliance agreements and enforceable undertakings which amount to an agreement to rectify a problem, improvement notices whereby an inspector issues a notice that requires certain measures to be undertaken, prohibition notices which are effectively stop work or do not disturb notices and court ordered injunctions.

(3) I am advised that if the asbestos is in good condition and not damaged or disturbed it does not pose a risk to health and safety. Asbestos is only a risk to health if asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in. The Office of Regulatory Services is not required to remove asbestos from residential homes. If an inspector is called to a location in response to a concern about asbestos and the materials are damaged or in


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