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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2514 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

be required to complement and explain the legislative scheme. The Government will ensure that industry representatives continue to be consulted over the next few weeks as the drafting is completed. It is expected that the regulations will all be tabled by Christmas this year so that this legislation can come into effect at some time in January next year.

Earlier this year members of all groups in the Legislative Assembly - the Opposition and crossbenchers - together with the industry groups I have referred to, were briefed on the Government's intentions at a meeting convened by the Minister for Urban Services, Mr Brendan Smyth. This legislation is consistent with the proposal tabled at the meeting and meets the commitments made at that time. One person at that round table conference who spoke earlier today has done a complete backflip. I do not want to name the person - the Minister may care to do so at another time - but that person gave a commitment and now he has done a complete 360. I am surprised.

I heard Mr Hargreaves putting his concerns, and they may well be justified, but the fact is that I know that under the legislation there is the opportunity to have audits. Audits can be taken at any time. If, for example, an electrical contractor does work on a house, at some time an audit can be undertaken to check his work. I understand that this will happen.

Mr Speaker, I believe these Bills should be supported and I hope they will receive general support from the parliament. I recommend that we support these Bills.

MR OSBORNE (6.02): We have just heard a very nice speech from Mr Hird, but unfortunately it did not convince me. I will not be supporting this package of Bills. It was not a very hard decision for me to make either. To some extent I accept the Government's argument that our current inspection system has its faults. However, I do not believe that it has enough faults to throw it out completely and replace it with the proposed new system, which I think has even more. Mr Speaker, I always find it a bit unnerving when I see legislation such as these Bills establishing the basic framework and we allow the Minister and his chief executive to fill in the blanks on their own as time goes by. I do not think that as a parliament we ought to allow that very often, and even then only when it is totally unavoidable. Yet that is what we are being asked to do once again today. Mr Speaker, I believe the legislation has too many blanks to be filled in and that the chief executive has too much unchecked authority, especially when he would deal with intended disciplinary action.

Mr Speaker, the inspection of properties during and after construction is a matter of trust. The public rely on inspectors to give them protection against shonky builders and poor workmanship and to ensure that their house complies with all safety aspects. It is a form of protection and insurance provided to the public by the government of the day. I do not believe that the level of protection contained in this legislation is adequate. Protection should therefore continue to be provided by the Government.

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