Page 2890 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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The regime established through the Dangerous Substances Act is broad and complex, and is supported by a wide range of regulations for explosives, including fireworks, 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 provision mandates a focus on fireworks, it would not be sensible for the government to review such a narrow aspect of a broad subject matter dealt with under the dangerous substances regime in isolation.

As I have just outlined, fireworks are merely one small element to be examined in an extensive review of the dangerous substances legislation. Nonetheless, the review will include an assessment of the effectiveness of the act in regulating the supply of fireworks in the ACT, as well as the social and environmental effects in the ACT and elsewhere of the use of fireworks supplied in, or from, the ACT.

In making these amendments the government is seeking to maintain both the breadth and particularity of the original terms of section 224. The government conducts a review of fireworks provision in the Dangerous Substances Act after every Queen’s Birthday long weekend, to assess the suitability of the current regime. We do not merely pass legislation and leave it to sit, unchecked, on the statute book for years to come. We continuously monitor ACT law to ensure it is keeping pace with changes in the territory. The Dangerous Substances Act was only enacted in March 2004, and we do not believe a review just over 12 months after its passing would 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 government is also of the view that there are potential synergies in aligning the timing of the review of the Dangerous Substances Act with the timing of the review of the OH&S Act. Accordingly, clause 4 substitutes the current provisions in section 224 of the Dangerous Substances Act, and requires the minister to review the act as soon as practicable after 2007, a date that will now correspond with the date the review of the OH&S Act must be conducted. The amended section also requires the minister to present a report on the outcome of the review to the Assembly on or before the third sitting day in 2008. I hope that addresses one of Dr Foskey’s concerns. Understandably, the date of the expiration of the section also has been changed, and will now expire on 30 June 2008.

This bill also introduces technical amendments to the Long Service Leave Act to remedy unintended changes, which Mr Mulcahy outlined earlier in this speech. I also thank the Housing Industry Association for contacting my office and alerting us to the unintended consequences of the changes made earlier this year. Those concerns of the HIA, as outlined by Mr Mulcahy, have been dealt with in this bill. The amendments to clause 5 address the problem outlined, and the passage of the bill will limit the possibility of employees being disadvantaged as a result.

Section 230 of the OH&S Act is amended by clause 6 of the bill. Like its equivalent in the Dangerous Substances Act, the review of act provision presently requires that the reviewer must not be a public employee employed in an administrative unit that is responsible for the administration of the act, nor should the reviewer be subject to

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