Page 575 - Week 02 - Thursday, 24 March 2022

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An exemption provision is included in the bill to make allowance for emergency situations. Under the provision, the minister may temporarily exempt a person or business from the act if the exemption is necessary to minimise a serious or immediate risk to the health or safety of people, property or the environment—for example, in the case of a natural disaster or radioactive spill. The explanatory statement to the bill further explains that a ministerial exemption should only be considered following consultation with established radiation safety experts, such as the Commonwealth Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council, or the Radiation Advisory Committee created by the bill.

The bill also establishes a requirement that the Chief Health Officer keep a register of licences, registered radiation sources and anything else prescribed by regulation. Maintaining this radiation register is currently the responsibility of the Radiation Council. Transferring the responsibility to the Chief Health Officer is part of the reformulation of the Radiation Council to an advisory body.

In response to the recommendation from the 2018 report, the Chief Health Officer will also be able to make information on the Radiation Register public; however, the Chief Health Officer must consider it in the public interest to do so. It is not intended that the register make available information in excess of comparable health licensing registers or radiation licence registers in use in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. The ACT government takes the safety and privacy of users very seriously and, as such, any consideration to the publishing of information will be subject to a public interest test, to ensure safety, security and privacy, and to ensure that businesses are not unduly impacted by the release of information.

The bill has some minor engagements on the right to privacy and right to presumption of innocence under the Human Rights Act 2004. The Attorney-General has reviewed the provisions of the bill and considers these to be aligned with the objectives of the ACT Human Rights Act. These engagements are further detailed in the explanatory statement presented with the bill.

In drafting the bill and assessing its impact, the ACT government consulted with key stakeholders, including all ACT radiation licence holders and registered source owners, peak industry bodies and core internal stakeholders such as the ACT Radiation Council. In summary, the bill makes important changes to ensure that the Radiation Protection Act continues to provide a robust and reliable framework for the regulation of radiation in the ACT. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Ms Castley) adjourned to the next sitting.

Environment, Climate Change and Biodiversity—Standing Committee


MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (11.31): I move:

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