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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4335 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

It is interesting to have seen the events of the last three or four hours or so. We had an announcement in the paper this morning. I had confirmation from Mrs Cross last night that it was her intention to support an amendment by the Leader of the Opposition to ensure that the phasing out took place no earlier than the end of 2008. Clearly, if members of this Assembly were genuine in their concern for the occupational health and safety of hospitality workers, delaying until 2008 the necessary protection which is provided for by the removal of exemptions is grossly unwarranted.

I want to draw to members' attention a media statement issued today by Smoke Free Australia, the alliance of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, the Musicians Union of Australia, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the ACTU, Action on Smoking and Health, the Cancer Council of Australia, the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, the Non-Smokers Movement of Australia and the Australian Medical Association. In the statement they said that a 2008 smoke-free pubs and clubs deadline would betray ACT workers and the public. They labelled the proposal an outrageous sell-out, a move by non-government MPs in the Legislative Assembly to delay smoke-free workplaces until 2008.

The alliance outlined that they were shocked at this development and urged all members to reconsider. They said, "A 2008 deadline would be a disaster for public health in the ACT, locking the territory into the most backward smoke-free legislation in Australia."They went on to say, "It would be better to see the current bill withdrawn altogether and to campaign instead for a realistic deadline in government legislation promised for early 2004."I understand that the Liberals now no longer propose to support a deadline of 2008, an interesting about-face in the context of the level of concern expressed by public health groups around the country and in the ACT about the proposed deadline.

I also want to draw to the attention of members reported comments of Mrs Cross which suggested that unions supported the deadline of the end of 2008 which she announced via the Canberra Times this morning. I should draw to the attention of members the views of the LHMWU, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, which outlined that their position was not to support the end of 2008 but was instead to support a date as soon as practicable. That was their position.

For those reasons, I have circulated to members an amendment outlining that the earliest practicable date at this stage to withdraw the exemption regime is 1 December 2006. The most recent three-year exemption was granted this week and therefore will expire in three years. The end of November or beginning of December is the first practicable time in which the exemptions regime can be removed without impinging on the exemptions already granted.

I should signal to members that it may be possible to bring forward an even earlier phasing out date once the assessment of the regulatory impact statement is completed. It is for that reason that the government is advocating a proposal to adjourn debate on this matter until the regulatory impact statement is completed and available to members for their consideration.

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