Page 2885 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 11 October 2022

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phase and the operation and maintenance phase and allowed regulators broad scope to ensure safety.

It was determined, however, during the construction of stage 1 of light rail that there was onerous and costly duplication of the regulation of the electrical wiring work undertaken on the project. It was found that the Electricity Safety Act still applied, despite there being a superior regulatory framework in place which already addressed the electrical safety and which was more fit for purpose.

Although the Electricity Safety Act deals with electrical safety, it is not the best fit to regulate a major infrastructure project such as the light rail network. The Electricity Safety Act is tailored towards residential and commercial electrical installations. Full compliance with the Electricity Safety Act means that licensed electricians would need to undertake every aspect of the electrical wiring work on the light rail project, which includes digging trenches for laying conduit and other unskilled tasks. This process is cost prohibitive for a major infrastructure project and does not provide any safety benefits that are not achieved through other regulatory oversight.

The Electricity Safety Act also requires that all electrical work is inspected and approved by the Access Canberra electrical inspectorate, who have expressed that the alternative regulations in place for large-scale electrical installations under the Utilities (Technical Regulation) Act 2014 are more suitable than those under the Electricity Safety Act.

This bill proposes to allow the minister to exempt a regulated utility from the operation of the Electricity Safety Act if that regulated utility is adequately regulated under another territory or commonwealth law and it can be demonstrated that the exemption does not increase the risk to public safety.

In the case of the light rail utility network, the technical codes that have been made under the Utilities (Technical Regulation) Act require a light rail regulated utility to engage licensed electricians to supervise all electrical works for the project. Under these technical codes, electrical work will also need to be certified by an independent electrical certifier. This will align the light rail utility with other utilities, such as Evoenergy and TransGrid, who do not need to comply with the Electricity Safety Act but instead have an internal competency system for their workers which provides an equivalent level of safety and is more specific to the nature of the work being undertaken.

By providing this exemption power, the bill also anticipates that emerging advances in electrical technologies may be better regulated under the Utilities (Technical Regulation) Act. These may include future big batteries and other electrical technologies not yet contemplated which do not fit under the inspection, testing and verification regime of the Electricity Safety Act.

The bill also makes the necessary amendments to the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 to provide exemptions from the requirement for electrical wiring work to be undertaken by a licensed electrician. The exemptions are limited to electrical wiring services by or on behalf of a regulated utility that has been exempted from the Electricity Safety Act by new section 62B.

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