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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 2286 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Firstly, I was not informed by the department of the removal of the storage shed from the Stokes Street preschool, because this was a routine matter of minor maintenance. I have been advised that the parent association of the preschool has been in contact with the department to indicate that they are very appreciative of the prompt action taken to act on the occupational health and safety report and to ensure that the safety of students was protected. I want now to put the issue in perspective.

The quote for the removal of the cubbyhouse was $165, with an additional sum of $200 to remove the asbestos sheeting roof, using appropriate asbestos removal methods. It would appear that there may have been some irregularity in the way the demolition was carried out and the materials were removed from the site.

Mr Connolly: A bungle.

MR STEFANIAK: We will see. I am advised that my department did act quickly and in accordance with the regulations to ensure that the hazard was removed from the preschool as quickly as possible. My department has also contacted Construction and Maintenance Management Services to request that they check the site to ensure that all hazardous materials have been removed. The property management section of the department received an occupational health and safety hazard report from the occupational health and safety representative at Forrest Primary School on 27 October regarding the need to undertake repairs to a cubbyhouse located in the grounds of the Stokes Street preschool. In particular, the structure had a steeply sloping roof indicative of major problems in the substructure.

I am advised that, in accordance with the response given to the OH and S hazard reports, action was taken quickly to arrange an inspection by a maintenance contractor to rectify the situation. Advice from the contractor was that such were the problems with the subfloor area and the roof structure that repair was not practicable and that it posed a risk if used by staff and children due to subsidence in the floor. No record exists of when the shed was built or who built it. It is estimated to be at least 30 years old. In addition, repairs were also considered impractical because of problems with the cladding material, which appeared to be AC sheeting, which I understand contains asbestos, and which would mean that repairing the structure would be an unsafe process. The department's arrangements with all contractors are that they undertake work in accordance with appropriate ordinances and legislation.

Approval for the removal of the shed was sought from and given by the Early Childhood Services Unit on 30 October and the work commenced on 31 October. Initially, the department did not know of the possible existence of AC sheeting. The hazard report made mention only of the poor condition of the structure. On inspection, the contractor advised of the possibility of AC sheeting. He quoted on the basis that it was AC sheeting which required appropriate removal procedures. The department agreed to proceed on that basis.

The contractor selected had previous experience with the department in the removal of hazardous material. I am advised that he removed mercury at the Telopea Park school, which was a substantial and complex project. On that basis, the department accepted his quote on the understanding that proper removal procedures would be followed.

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