Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (17 August) . . Page.. 2324..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
it is impossible to work out all the kinks until after implementation. The bill contains only one mention of a review, in clause 125, which merely states that the minister must present a report to the Assembly in 10 years. I am concerned that, without any monitoring over the next decade, issues such as those that I have raised might be slipped into the cracks and not mended in a timely manner.
Finally, I would like to speak briefly on the three amendments to the bill pertaining to strict liability. These amendments might be fair, but I am concerned about the application of strict liability; for instance, in the case I mentioned where a practitioner might slip up due to some oversight or lack of resources. I remind the Assembly that the legal affairs committee is looking into the application of strict liability offences and their penalties under the Criminal Code Harmonisation Bill 2005. I note that the amendments, being amendments, did not come to the scrutiny of bills committee. The scrutiny of bills committee has expressed concern time and time again about the broad-scale application of strict liability offences. But this is a new national regime. As I have said, in general I support its implementation but I would like the concerns that I have mentioned to be noted and addressed.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo-Minister for Health, Minister for Disability and Community Services and Minister for Women) (12.24), in reply: The Radiation Protection Bill 2006 is designed to protect the health and safety of people and the environment from the harmful affects of ionising and non-ionising radiation. It achieves this objective by regulating the manufacture, possession, use, transportation and disposal of radioactive materials and irradiating apparatus.
This legislation originated out of the National Competition Policy Review of Radiation Protection Legislation in all Australian jurisdictions. The NCP review was carried out by the radiation health committee of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. The NCP review concluded in 2001 that there should be a national standard for radiation protection in order to achieve uniformity in radiation protection practices and legislation between all Australian jurisdictions.
The radiation health committee, which included representatives from all states and territories, set about developing the national standard known as the National Directory for Radiation Protection, or the directory, for short. A national regulatory impact statement, which the ACT has accepted, was developed to assess the impact of the regulatory regime proposed by the national directory and the legislation in each jurisdiction, including the bill we are currently considering.
In assessing the impact, many companies, industry groups and professional associations were consulted, including the AMA, learned medical, dental and nursing colleges, the Australian Academy of Science and the ACT Radiation Council. Following this consultation, the directory was approved for uniform introduction across all jurisdictions by the Australian Health Ministers Conference in July 2004. In August 2004 the first edition of the directory was published.
The bill before the Assembly for debate today implements the principles set out in the directory, and the bill is consistent with the recommendations of the NCP review. The bill also maintains a number of aspects of radiation protection legislation presently contained in the Radiation Act 1983. The bill re-establishes the radiation council, which