Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (17 August) . . Page.. 2322..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
was agreed some time ago and it follows work that has recently been done in the Northern Territory, Victoria, and Tasmania. I thank the office of the Minister for Health for a most useful briefing on the bill and its impact on the ACT. I thank the Chief Health Officer, Paul Dugdale, in particular for the very useful science lesson in positively charged ions and also their effect on individuals and their effect on this bill.
The bill has been a long time in coming. The process started in July 1998, when the then health ministers conference endorsed a new model national radiation and protection regulatory framework. It was done under the auspices of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, or ARPANSA as it is known. The key issue to overcome was the implementation of a uniform regulatory regime across Australia to facilitate working with radioactive sources and radiation equipment.
The purpose of the bill and the purpose of the reform are to minimise costs for all user industries, but at the same time to update international guidelines for health and safety matters. So it was the best of both worlds for the community and for industries involved. Subsequent actions included review by all jurisdictions. There was extensive consultation and competition policy review, as well as a cost-benefit analysis of the regulatory impact of the legislation.
In the ACT, I was concerned to appreciate the involvement of the interested parties and the impact on our particular industries and organisations. I have been assured by the minister's office that there was extensive consultation, particularly through the ACT Radiation Council, which includes the CSIRO, the ANU, professional radiologists and the Canberra Hospital. There was also a range of consultations with peak industry and professional bodies; that is, doctors and radiologists, amongst others.
It is interesting to note that the bill also includes non-ionising sources of radiation; that is, things like the sun. It is great to see that the Stanhope governments feel that they can bring the sun to heel. When the regulations come out and are tabled by the minister I will be interested to see whether she intends to be the King Canute of the outer reaches of the universe, as opposed to just the ocean.
The previous regime covered ionising sources of radiation. That is that end of the spectrum that includes gamma radiation and X-rays, as well as radioactive substances. The bill will extend this to non-ionising sources, including the siting of microwave towers, and that is an area that we are currently debating. Non-ionising sources of radiation include those generated by microwaves, ultraviolet radiation-that is, the sun and other sources that generate heat-and radio frequency radiation. Again I note the very special effort that will be required to do with the largest source of non-ionising radiation, the sun.
Our briefing from the government showed that the bureaucracy is most concerned to minimise any impost from the regulatory regime, while recognising at the same time that the bill deals with matters that can be the cause of considerable health and safety issues. We are certainly encouraged by that attitude and we are satisfied that the bill will serve a useful purpose.
There are amendments from the minister to clarify what appear to be inconsistencies in three of the proposed subsections. The liability appears to apply only to paragraph (a) of