Page 3241 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005

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have any information that bears on the assault. Of course, we all hope for a speedy resolution of that investigation. We hope that those who perpetrated this mindless act of violence are apprehended and charged and face the full force of the law. We wish the unfortunate and innocent victim of this assault a speedy recovery.

Asbestos task force

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Minister for Industrial Relations. Minister, on Tuesday you tabled the report by the ACT asbestos task force entitled “Asbestos management in the ACT”. The government, in its response, agreed to all the recommendations but one. Minister, why didn’t the government agree to that recommendation?

MS GALLAGHER: The report I tabled on Tuesday is a major achievement for the ACT—it may even be a world first—in that it examined asbestos from the point of view of not only government but also the residential and non-residential sectors. It presents the government with a practical, cost-effective and balanced approach to the management of asbestos in the ACT.

Essentially, the government has agreed to all of the 25 recommendations contained in the report. However, the task force identified that sections 47K and 47L of the Dangerous Substances Act required significant changes. These sections, which have not yet commenced, require property owners and occupiers to provide asbestos reports when listing their property for sale or when undertaking high-risk activities. These sections are due to commence on 16 January 2006, meaning members of the community will soon begin preparing for their introduction.

The task force identified a number of issues associated with the mandatory requirements for a survey report. In particular, the task force thought that these provisions were impractical, given the amount of resources that would be required to implement them at the point of sale for every transaction. There could be in the order of 2,500 transactions per month at any one time in the ACT and there are simply insufficient competent asbestos assessors in the ACT currently to supply the required reports.

A survey of over 600 houses undertaken by the task force revealed consistent results and information relating to the location of building materials containing asbestos in ACT homes. From this survey, the government has compiled generic advice that gives a strong overall picture of where asbestos is likely to be in Canberra homes.

The task force recommended amending these sections to create three separate approaches for the future management and control of asbestos in our community, targeting the residential sector, the non-residential sector and those trades and asbestos industry groups that handle materials containing asbestos on a regular basis. Together, these alternative approaches offer a more effective way of providing information and protecting people at risk than the current legislation.

The task force had recommended delaying their commencement until a later date. However, the government felt that this could create uncertainty in the community. Instead, these sections will be repealed in the spring sittings and, shortly thereafter, replaced with the enhanced regime recommended by the task force. Again I stress that

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