Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (27 October) . . Page.. 2237 ..
MR HIRD (continuing):
We have very carefully considered the exposure draft. We have unanimously come to the view that the proposed Bill is desirable. It builds on the Environment Protection Act, which was passed by the parliament last year. It will enable the preparation of a contaminated sites register. It will enable the Environment Management Authority to investigate land that might be contaminated and to establish a process for its assessment and remediation. It will facilitate the recovery of costs from the polluter.
One of my colleagues on the committee, Mr Corbell, has added some comments about two specific matters. One is in relation to the information that should be placed on the register of contaminated sites. The other is in relation to open standing. But we all agree on the detailed list of changes outlined at the front of the report. These are too detailed to go into before the parliament today, but they demonstrate the care and attention to detail that the committee has shown in examining the exposure draft.
I would like to thank those who assisted the committee in its deliberations for their evidence, both written and verbal; our secretary, Mr Rod Power; and also the other two members. I commend the report to the parliament.
MR CORBELL (10.37): Mr Speaker, I would like to start by thanking my colleagues on the committee considering the exposure draft of this Bill, Mr Hird and Mr Rugendyke, and also our committee secretary, Mr Rod Power, for his efforts. He has been very busy in the last few days preparing not only this report but a number of other reports from the committee. I thank him for his patient efforts.
This is report No. 10 of the Standing Committee on Urban Services, which demonstrates the workload that this committee has. This particular report focuses on the very important issue of contaminated sites. As Mr Hird indicated, there were two concerns that I raised in some additional comments as part of the report. Whilst endorsing fully the majority report, I felt it was appropriate to make a number of additional comments that I thought should be drawn to the Government's attention.
The first was in relation to the register of contaminated lands. The majority report in this case has accepted the Government's position on what information should be available through that register. I have a somewhat different view from my colleagues. I believe that there is the capacity to include, and the Government should consider including, in the register of contaminated lands, lands that have been remediated and are no longer contaminated.
There obviously is a fine line to be drawn between what information should be included in the register and what should not, and that was certainly made clear to us by officials of Environment ACT and other officers. But I do believe that, first of all, we must maintain the public's right to know what land has been contaminated and remediated; and, secondly, we must pay some attention to the precautionary principle in looking at land that has been contaminated and remediated.