Page 2072 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 21 June 2005
These review provisions were initiated through amendments of the crossbench during debate of the Dangerous Substances Bill 2003 in March 2004 and amendments to the OH&S Act in June 2004. The Dangerous Substances Act creates a modern duty-based framework for the regulation of dangerous goods and hazardous substances and anticipates international developments in integrated chemicals management. The OH&S Act, as amended, creates an enhanced compliance and enforcement framework for workplace safety in the ACT. This framework is paralleled in the compliance and enforcement provisions of the Dangerous Substances Act.
Both the Dangerous Substances Act and the OH&S Act, as amended, establish complex and innovative regulatory regimes. Legislated requirements to review the operation of significant new laws are not uncommon and ensure that following a sufficient period a sound assessment of the workability of the legislation and its effectiveness in meeting its objectives can be made. The government does believe, however, that the period of time needed to adequately and comprehensively assess the legislation should be longer than that currently specified in the Dangerous Substances Act. In seeking to amend the provisions along the lines I will now outline, this government maintains its commitment to a robust review of these important bodies of legislation.
The regulatory regime established for the Dangerous Substances Act is broad and complex and is supported by a wide range of regulations for explosives, storage and safe handling, asbestos awareness, asbestos prohibition and the licensing of security sensitive substances such as fertiliser grade ammonium nitrate. Additional regulations will be developed for health surveillance, control of carcinogens and transport in the coming period.
While the current review provision mandates a focus on fireworks it would not be sensible for the government to review such a narrow aspect of the broad subject matter dealt with under the Dangerous Substances regime in isolation. Fireworks are only one element to be examined in the extensive review of the dangerous substances legislation. The government conducts an annual comprehensive regime review of the fireworks provisions in the Dangerous Substances Act after every Queen’s Birthday long weekend to assess the suitability of the current regime. The government does not pass legislation and leave it to sit unchecked on the statute books for years to come. We are continually evaluating and re-evaluating ACT law to ensure it is keeping pace with changes in the territory. Further the Dangerous Substances Act was only enacted in March last year. The government does not believe that a review only some 12 months after its introduction will enable a full analysis of the Dangerous Substances regulatory regime. Sufficient time should be allowed to pass before a review takes place so the regime as a whole can be properly assessed.
The Dangerous Substances Act and the OH&S Act establish complimentary safety regimes based on positive duties of care. The Dangerous Substances Act has a modern approach to compliance and enforcement created through a hierarchy of enforcement measures ranging from advice, education and persuasion to increasingly serious sanctions such as improvement notices, prohibition notices and finally prosecution, and an innovative mix of compliance mechanisms including notices of agreed compliance, remedial orders, enforceable undertakings and injunctions. This compliance and