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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 6098..


waiting in the hospital, particularly when the waits are long due to the load that is before the emergency department.

In the last six weeks, we have seen record numbers of presentations. Our emergency staff are doing an incredible job. Every day they are turning up—24 hours a day, seven days a week—and are presented with demands that they have never seen before. And they are dealing with it and the hospital is coping. That is to their enormous credit.

At times, patients will not have the experience that we would all hope for them to have when they present to the emergency department. That is often for a range of different reasons—not necessarily the triage category; often to do with the wait. But the most urgent people need to be seen first. That is the way the triage system works. If there are concerns around the triage allocation, they need to be responded to, and we are doing just that.

Smoking—reform

MS PORTER: My question without notice is to the Minister for Health. Minister, from today, Canberrans will breathe easier when they visit pubs, clubs and restaurants across the ACT. Can you please advise the Assembly of the reason for this cleaner, fresher air?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Porter for the question. Indeed, the law that comes into effect today is an example of what we can do when the Assembly works together. And I do recall that, in December last year, this bill received unanimous support from members of this place.

It is a great day today. Workers across the ACT, particularly those who work in hospitality, will no longer be required to work in a smoking environment. From now on, all workers in the hospitality sector will be protected from the harmful effects of environmental tobacco smoke. This is because the new laws that amend the ACT's smoke-free legislation, the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Act, comes into effect.

This legislation covers all outdoor places where food and drink are provided from an on-site service such as restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and clubs. The move is an important step in protecting the health of those working in the hospitality industry and for those members of the community who are non-smokers and who, if they do want to eat or have a drink outside, are often subjected to the harmful effects of environmental tobacco smoke.

It has been four years now since all enclosed public places in the ACT went completely smoke free. Members will recall that it was not until 2006 that all areas in pubs and clubs became smoke free. Since then, the body of evidence regarding the effects on public health from environmental tobacco smoke that can occur in outdoor settings has increased significantly. And we have responded proactively to this evidence.


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