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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 February 2005) . . Page.. 422 ..

section 47J. The existing definition should continue to apply to the conduct of an investigation under section 47K and to the provision of a report under section 47L. It is also argued that the identification in section 47J(2) of the class of persons who should be given information—a person at risk—is unclear. Some members of the community are concerned that the expression might extend as far as hotel and motel guests and so on.

There is apparent confusion because the use of the term “tenant” as a class of “persons at risk” is not defined. To put the matter beyond doubt, section 47J is amended to define a tenant as a tenant under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and the Leases (Commercial and Retail) Act 2001, or as otherwise prescribed. The expression “person at risk” has been replaced by the expression “relevant person” to define a person who may not be at risk but who should be advised about asbestos in case the risk arises.

Finally, the bill amends the commencement provision of the act to allow section 47J to commence no later than 4 April 2005. Without this amendment, section 47J would commence on 1 March this year in accordance with section 79 of the Legislation Act 2001, which states that if a postponed law has not commenced within six months beginning on its notification day it automatically commences on the first day after that period. The Dangerous Substances (Asbestos) Amendment Act was notified on 31 August 2004. The amendment follows a recommendation of the Asbestos Assessment Task Force in relation to the need to ensure that the public information program planned by the task force can commence as smoothly and effectively as possible.

Given the need for other amendments to the act, the proposed delay is entirely appropriate. In summary, the proposed amendments in this bill have two important effects: firstly, to clarify the intended scope of section 47J of the act relating to the obligation to provide information about asbestos; and, secondly, to postpone the operation of section 47J until 4 April 2005 to allow the effective implementation of the government’s asbestos awareness program.

There may be other amendments to the Dangerous Substances Act following the report of the task force later in the year. In the meantime, these amendments will ensure that there will be a minimum of confusion about the obligation of owners and occupants to inform people about asbestos on premises. That is an important objective and one that I believe this Assembly should support. The short delay in the commencement of the obligation will allow the task force to steer the implementation of the act in this way—in the way this Assembly or the previous Assembly intended when the act was passed in August. The task force, which has been progressing its agenda very well, is deserving of the Assembly’s support in achieving a proper staging of this program.

Debate (on motion by Mr Mulcahy) adjourned to the next sitting.

Government Procurement Amendment Bill 2004

Debate resumed from 9 December 2004, on motion by Mr Quinlan:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.53): The opposition supports this bill. The purpose of the bill is to prevent public disclosure of information such as design drawings,

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