Page 3525 - Week 11 - Thursday, 22 September 2005

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MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning, and Acting Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Acting Minister for Women and Acting Minister for Industrial Relations) (10.42): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I present the Dangerous Substances (Asbestos) Amendment Bill 2005 (No. 2) to amend the Dangerous Substances (Asbestos) Amendment Act 2004 and the Dangerous Substances (Asbestos) Amendment Act 2005. It is a bill to repeal sections 47K and L of the act prior to their scheduled commencement on 16 January 2006. Section 47K of the act requires that an asbestos survey report be obtained when high-risk activities are being undertaken and section 47L requires that asbestos survey reports be obtained for properties listed for sale.

Members will recall that Ms Gallagher, the Minister for Industrial Relations, recently tabled the ACT Asbestos Task Force Report Asbestos management in the ACT and the government response to the report recommendations. The task force report proposed new management regimes for residential and non-residential sectors in light of research undertaken through the extent and impact survey and research into national and international best practice management tools.

In addition, the task force’s review of sections 47K and L raised a number of issues that would affect the implementation and effectiveness of these provisions. These included: limited industry capacity and insurance cover available for asbestos assessors and surveyors to prepare asbestos survey reports, coupled with limited regulation of the industry; the relatively high cost of asbestos reports; the difficulty in being able to regulate the residential sector in the provision of asbestos survey reports; the unlikely outcome that obtaining a report, which has a limited lifetime, would result in ongoing improved management practices and the potential impact on property market valuation for buildings with materials containing asbestos.

The task force also concluded that obtaining a report at the point of sale or when engaging in high-risk activities was unlikely to improve asbestos management practices or protect those people most likely to be at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres during particular activities. What are needed are practical and effective approaches to management awareness and training. Education and training targeted towards tradespeople who are likely to come in contact with asbestos materials on a daily basis, along with targeted education and advice for do-it-yourself home renovators are more practical and effective approaches in raising asbestos awareness and improving asbestos management.

In responding to the task force report, the government supported the new regimes for the residential and non-residential sectors. The task force recommended that the government defer sections 47K and L to a later date in 2006 to allow time for consideration of the recommendations put forward. However, to ensure that there is no confusion in the community about the government’s intentions for the future management of asbestos in the residential and non-residential sectors, it is now proposed to repeal sections 47K and 47L, rather than to defer them to a later date. This approach is consistent with the government’s response to the task force report. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

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