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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4983 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Given that, as an Assembly, we have already set the date for the ending of the exemptions, it is interesting to go through some of the things that the government talks about. The government's response is particularly wishy-washy in that it is more a statement of fact than government acceptance of the report and a path forward. We are seeing so often with this government the inability to take hard decisions and tell people where it is going and how it is going to get there.

One of the government's comments is that the inescapable fact is that under the ACT's present exemption system tobacco smoke was found in most areas where people chose to go in order to avoid exposure to tobacco smoke. What will the government do about that? There is nothing in the government's response to its own report to indicate that it is going to do anything significant. That brings us to the issue of enforcement and control.

From issues raised in a number of forums, the lack of enforcement by the government or the lack of will to enforce by the government has become apparent. If the minister is going to speak, he might like to say how many inspectors there are, how many inspections are being done, how much enforcement is being carried out, how many fines have been issued. If smoke was being found by the monitoring in, I think, 82 per cent of the premises, how many premises were shut down for violating their exemptions?

I think the answer to most of the enforcement issues is that nothing has been done. That does raise again questions about the minister's control of his portfolio and whether he is interested in it. I hope that the minister will speak to the motion, because it is important to know that laws passed by the Assembly are actually being enforced by the government. There is concern among a number of people who have spoken to me and, indeed, to other members on this side of the chamber as to places that have been caught for not complying with their exemptions but no action has taken place.

The minister may be being negligent in his job if things are being brought to his attention or to the attention of his officers and nothing seems to happen. We have a similar circumstance, Mr Speaker, with the occupational health and safety on-the-spot fines that you had passed by this place in March 2001. Not a single fine has been issued and I understand that very little attempt has been made to rectify the flaws in the bill or the regulations that have caused that situation to occur. It is well and good for the government to say that it is going to do things, but if it has in existence the tools that allow it to do those things and it is not enforcing the law and it is not resourcing the enforcing, you have to question the intention of the government.

That being said, Mr Speaker, there are some other interesting recommendations. On page 14 of the response the government says that it believes that children should not be subjected to ETS, environmental tobacco smoke, in enclosed public places. I think we would all agree with that, but the government does not say what it is going to do. This document is meant to be a government's response, not a government's lack of response, to its own report, but you really could characterise it as the government's lack of response.

The government has stated that the fact that children visit many licensed premises means that the impact of ETS on children is also an issue, but what is the government going to do about it? Perhaps the minister could point out where the answers are in his response to

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