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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2892 ..


development. Unlike the Liberals, we take care in identifying land that suits the needs of Canberrans but also maintains the city that we love and cherish as the bush capital.

Work health and safety—silica dust

MR BRADDOCK: My question is to the minister for workplace health and safety. Minister, the parliamentary and governing agreement mentions the introduction of new regulations to protect tradespeople from silica dust. Can you please provide an update on progress on introducing these new regulations?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mr Braddock for his question. It is an important question as we work through being able to support people in the construction industry regarding these dangerous products. The government has committed in the parliamentary and governing agreement to create regulations to protect workers from silica dust exposure. There is increasing evidence of the widespread and devastating effects of silica dust. Just last week I met with a worker affected by silicosis. She has two young children and now faces the uncertainty of life with a debilitating disease. Her story is a confronting reminder that this disease destroys lives. I want to thank Joanna and the Australian Workers Union for their discussion and their continuing engagement on this important issue.

We are meeting, and we have met, with a number of employers. WorkSafe ACT and our WHS people are working on how we can go forward with protecting people against the impacts of silica dust. We have prohibitions in place on outside cutting—dry cutting, for example—and we are looking at the legislative responsibility for introducing the safe practice around silica.

MR BRADDOCK: Minister, can you provide an estimate as to when these new regulations might be in place?

MR GENTLEMAN: Work is still underway on the consultation between industry—some major players, of course—government, Health and WorkSafe ACT. The legislative component is still a little while away, but I am very pleased that the consultative component is going well. I have heard from industry here in the ACT about their concerns—not just their concerns about any legislative requirement, but their concerns about being a proper employer in the ACT, providing the safety and training that are needed, and the study into silicosis that could be required through their workplaces. There is the aspect of employers in other jurisdictions, and therefore the cost that might be borne by them as well. We are working through that, too.

MR DAVIS: Minister, will there be consultation with industry on the development of these regulations? If so, what will that consultation look like?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mr Davis for his interest, too. Yes, there certainly has been, and continues to be, consultation. It is face to face between industry and me, in some aspects, as well as with our WHS council and our WHS officials within the ACT government. I think that consultation is going really well. We have some concerns about cost, by way of looking at mandatory medical requirements for, if you like, invasive studies. It is an incredibly bad disease. The only real cure is a lung


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