Page 2888 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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action against fireworks merchants who broke the law rather than friends of animal liberation having to draw attention to them, it could work even better.

However, I would be very interested to see what a more comprehensive review of the new regime would show. Similarly, I have not yet heard of any disruption to workplaces caused by visits of union representatives on an occupational health and safety pretence—although this early in the process, and without an investigatory assessment of the impact of these provisions, I am not in a position to make such a judgment.

My concerns lie chiefly with the approach. This is not a greatly different government from last year’s. The agreements it made last year to gain support from the crossbench were also made de facto through the crossbench with the community and business groups whose concerns have been represented in those negotiations. This is the government simply remaking the legislation because it is more convenient and because it reflects poorly on the regard it has for those people and those organisations that it has worked with in the past. It goes something like this: “We will work with you if we have to and, as soon as we do not have to, we will not.” That is a very poor principle by which to run government. On the other hand, it is a strong indicator that a minority government is required to hold some important values and the Canberra electorate would do well to note them—in essence, cooperation and trust.

This is not the first example of government making decisions of convenience in a way that undermines the trust of its community partners. I have no doubt that it will not be the last. This bill is clear evidence that government’s inevitable inclination is to slide towards decisions of convenience on the presumption that its instincts are correct and that a more participatory approach to government will only develop if constraints remain on and cooperation is required of those in power. I think this is the message the community will take from this, at least those community groups that were so involved in the process last year.

I am a little surprised that the Liberal opposition is agreeing to this legislation with so little demurring. I would have thought that, after all the complaints, the business community would have wanted a much more rigorous evaluation of the legislation, but apparently everything is fine there. I understand that the minister has given commitments to ensure that the particular issues of concern in these acts that I have referred to will be looked at specifically during the internal review. I look forward to hearing those assurances at the conclusion of this debate. Of course, the Greens will be looking with interest at, and requesting to see, a copy of the reports that come out of the evaluation.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (12.20), in reply: The legislation we are considering today amends the review of act requirements in the Dangerous Substances Act and the OH&S Act. The amendments refocus the reviews on the broad operation of the regulatory regimes established by the act, align their timing, and provide flexibility to the minister in establishing arrangements for their conduct.

As it stands now, the Dangerous Substances Act requires an independent review of the operation of the act as soon as practicable after 30 June 2005. Similarly, the OH&S Act currently requires an independent review of the Act, passed last year, as soon as

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