Page 4283 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2005
this house. I do understand that the health minister feels that the government was perhaps caught between a rock and a hard place, and I am very well aware that the path of politics is not an easy one. The minister asked me what the alternatives were and in my earlier comments I suggested a number of them. Of course, other states and jurisdictions have found alternatives. I guess it depends. You start off with a priority and then you find the method of achieving that priority.
It is very important to note that New South Wales is watching the ACT. It is important because our people hop across the border all the time and people from New South Wales come into the ACT. The government’s own evidence, which was put before it by its regulatory impact statement, shows very clearly that the higher degree of enclosure, the less safe it is for people inside that area. Our concerns about occupational health and safety were answered in part by the minister. I am sorry that the Minister for Industrial Relations is not here to respond to the motion. We will be watching the regulation very carefully, and I am sure that workers and their unions will as well.
Mr Smyth said that clubs have been calling out for certainty. I certainly was at the event he mentioned and I did hear that said. But what is clear is that the regulation does not actually offer clubs and their boards of management any certainty because they do not know when we will move to the more desirable outcome where smoking areas are fully unenclosed. I am not sure how much certainty they feel they have.
I have had a lot of support from constituents. I had a call today from a member of perhaps one of the less wealthy clubs, indicating that some of the clubs have fewer resources at their disposal for implementing the new regulation. This club member said that in her club expansion of its semi-outdoor area to be 75 per cent enclosed has meant a loss of parking for the disabled. So there are winners and losers on this one. If we had fully unenclosed outdoor areas, clubs could work with some of the areas they already have.
Just to reiterate points that I have probably made in earlier debates, a market research survey in June 2005 found that 64 per cent of ordinary Australians said that it was unacceptable for up to 75 per cent enclosed rooms to be called outdoor and have smoking allowed in them. Even research by that company Philip Morris, which you cannot say would be opposed to smoking anywhere, found that 89 per cent of people would go more often, or it would make no difference to their attendance at hotel bars if they were smoke-free. Support for non-smoking bans is highest amongst the 18 to 24-year-olds, that group that have grown up in smoke-free restaurants and other spaces. We can be very proud of that result, but those people are now demanding that all their entertainment be in smoke-free places.
Incidentally, I am reminded of a conversation I had with club representatives earlier this year. Their concern was that young people of this very age group were not flocking to clubs. They do have a crisis. Their crisis is not just smoking. Their crisis is that they are probably not providing the services that a lot of young people require, and apparently they require smoke-free places. Just a reminder—smoky workplaces are actually illegal under existing Australian occupational health and safety laws. They place a legal obligation on employers to provide a safe workplace, and that is where our management of this new regulation will be absolutely crucial.