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Canberra Times . . Page.. 829 ..

Fitness Industry - Code of Practice

MS McRAE: My question is directed to Mr Humphries in his capacity as Minister for Consumer Affairs. Mr Humphries, what action have you taken to ensure that the fitness industry code of practice has been appropriately promulgated and implemented?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I thank Ms McRae for her question. The question of regulating the fitness industry is an issue which this Government has taken up from the previous Government. As members would know, a decision was made for there to be some controls of the fitness industry following some concerns about the way in which a number of clubs in the ACT had closed down. I am aware of the need for that proposed regulation to continue.

I am advised that on 3 January of this year the former Attorney-General approved the code which will provide for regulation of this industry and that it took effect on 6 January, the date it was gazetted. The code's introduction was formally publicised by way of a public notice in the Canberra Times on 7 January of this year. The fitness industry code was developed using a two-stage process, with submissions being sought from members of the public and the fitness industry at the first stage, and the draft code being released for public comment during the second stage, ensuring maximum public exposure at all stages. The code was developed using a working party involving industry. That, of course, is the way I think any responsible government should proceed when it proposes to embark on regulating an industry which has not previously been regulated. That working party consisted of representatives of the industry, representatives of government and representatives of consumers.

I am advised that letters advising of the code's introduction have been sent recently to no fewer than 25 of Canberra's major gym operators. They are the people who are most directly involved in this particular code. I am not aware of the response to those 25 letters. They will be followed through to ensure that the members of the industry understand how the code affects them and what their obligations are under that code. We will ensure that these things are followed through appropriately for those, for example, who do not understand their obligations or who over a period of time might have indicated some unwillingness either directly or through their non-compliance with the terms of that code. As I have indicated, we as a government would prefer to see implementation follow understanding of the code and community acceptance of it. If there were significant problems with that, we would have to review the enforcement procedures, for example; but at this stage I am satisfied that progress with implementation of the code is satisfactory.

MS McRAE: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Thank you, Mr Humphries, for that quite helpful response; but I still have not really heard how you can justify your failure to meet the implementation of that code by 1 July. It must be implemented by 1 July.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am not sure what Ms McRae would suggest that I do. As I have said, the code was advised in a public way in January. Letters have been sent to - - -

Ms McRae: There are specific requirements.

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