Page 738 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2023
been made increasingly clear that both industry and worker representative groups understand how serious the issue is and how important it is that we get the response right.
The government’s response to this issue has been developed in close consultation with the industry and unions, including the MBA and the CFMEU. Our directorate officials have worked closely with industry in the development of the government’s silica action plan over many months. By way of an example, a tripartite subcommittee of the Work Health and Safety Council was established in February 2022 to consider silica safety arrangements and to recommend improvements. They were also discussed at length with the Work Health and Safety Council meeting of May last year. As a result of this collaboration and consultation, adjustments were made to the ACT’s uncontrolled silica dust dry-cutting ban, which came into effect last year.
The government is continuing to work with industry and stakeholders in relation to the implementation and practical application of these changes.
DR PATERSON: Minister, what are the next steps that the government will take in order to eliminate the risk of silicosis?
MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Dr Paterson for the question. The ACT’s independent Work Health and Safety Commissioner has advised that we cannot ever eliminate the risk of silicosis while these products contain such high concentrations of the respirable silica, so we need to continue working to ensure that every worker comes home safe and no-one is exposed to the unnecessary risk that silica dust causes.
My colleague Minister Steel represented me at the recent meeting of work health and safety ministers. At this meeting, there was unanimous support for Safe Work Australia to undertake the analysis and the consultation on the prohibition of the use of engineered stone. The ACT strongly supports the ministerial council’s decision to progress the analysis and consultation as soon as possible. As a result, Safe Work Australia has commenced public consultation on the prohibition of the use of engineered stone in Australia, and the public consultation will be open until 11.59 pm on 2 April 2023.
A national licensing system will also be considered for dealing with products which are not subject to the ban or legacy products, like engineered stone that is already in place in homes and businesses around the country.
The ACT government will continue to work with our federal colleagues to progress this issue and ensure that a consistent approach is taken to protect the safety of all workers. I look forward to working with the incoming New South Wales state government to ensure that we achieve a consistent and sensible approach which ensures that trades people are protected on both sides of the New South Wales and ACT border.
Canberra Health Services—data security
MR COCKS: My question is to the Minister for Mental Health. I refer to reports over the weekend that state that the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation claim