Page 3980 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005

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mandatory training for tradespeople who are likely to handle asbestos as part of their everyday work;

a regime of asbestos survey reports, registers and management plans for all non-residential premises constructed before 2003, to be progressively implemented;

a licensing and training regime for asbestos surveyors and assessors;

a requirement for mandatory generic “asbestos advice” forms at key transaction points in the residential sector—building approval, sale and tenancy; and

a requirement for the preparation of asbestos work plans, via the approval process or in industry standards and codes of practice, prior to renovation activities in residential buildings constructed before 1984.

Finally, it is proposed that there be a five-year implementation plan and a review. I believe it is likely that the approach proposed by the task force will address the practical difficulties that exist in maintaining an available pool of sufficiently qualified asbestos assessors to meet demand for asbestos survey reports. A more targeted, results oriented regime will also ensure that a greater cost-benefit balance is achieved in directing resources towards the most effective points of education and behaviour change.

It is noted by the task force that, if the act were to go ahead without substantial amendment, there would be insufficient competent asbestos assessors in the ACT to supply the required reports in time for the commencement of the act’s provisions. There are 2,500 properties for sale in the ACT at any time, so the magnitude of the problem is evident. It is likely that many owners and sellers undertaking high-risk activities would have been unable to obtain the required reports by 16 January 2006. While new service providers are likely to appear in the market, I concur with the task force’s concerns about the need to establish minimum standards of competency for asbestos assessors. Devising and applying such standards takes time and would not have been done properly if they had been rushed through to commence on 16 January next year.

In conclusion, I would like to again thank the minister and her office for the manner in which they brief us on matters of this nature. I think that ensures that, on non-contentious issues, we are able to progress legislation in a constructive fashion. The opposition therefore supports this bill.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.12): I will also be supporting this bill. This bill is a device to remove requirements for the issuing of asbestos reports and imposing a legal liability on owners and residents to identify the location of materials containing asbestos material. The requirements were due to come into force early next year. The asbestos task force report recommended the withdrawal of these provisions and their replacement with something quite different and, the report argued, more achievable.

I think it is worth recapping briefly on the process that led to the creation of the scheme to deal with asbestos in the ACT government’s Dangerous Substances Act. In essence, there was a concerted lobbying process led by people who had suffered from asbestos-related diseases and their families, looking for governments to establish a regime that alerted others to the dangers of materials containing asbestos.

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