Page 834 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2006

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Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak) adjourned to the next sitting.

Asbestos Legislation Amendment Bill 2006

Ms Gallagher, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (11.11): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The main objective of the bill is to give effect to the government’s response to the ACT Asbestos Taskforce report that was tabled on 28 July last year in order to establish asbestos management regimes for the residential sector and those occupations that handle asbestos on a regular basis. The government agreed, or agreed in principle, to all of the recommendations of the task force, with one exception: the proposal to defer the commencement of sections 47K and 47L of the Dangerous Substances Act from 16 July 2006 until a later date. In light of the support for the new management regimes, the government agreed instead to repeal those sections in preparation for these new legislative reforms I am presenting today. Members may recall that sections 47K and 47L were subsequently repealed in October last year.

This bill does not capture the non-residential asbestos requirements proposed by the task force report. These will be incorporated in the ACT’s amendments to the Dangerous Substances Regulation 2004 as part of the implementation of the national hazardous substances regulatory framework. An exposure draft of the hazardous substances regulatory framework will be made available for comment prior to the introduction of the regulation framework.

Generally, the bill proposes to amend certain laws and regulations to provide for a range of measures to establish a new asbestos management regime for the residential sector, as well as for the licensing and training of construction and other occupations that handle asbestos on a regular basis, and to allow for the supply of information at key transaction points on the likely location of asbestos in homes built prior to 1985. Further detail on the key measures contained in this bill follows.

The bill proposes a number of amendments to the Building Act 2004. The bill will provide that minor maintenance work and work done by prescribed occupations on less than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos and done in accordance with the relevant asbestos codes of practice will be exempt from the building approval process.

Currently any asbestos-related work, regardless of size, can only be undertaken or supervised by a licensed builder in accordance with the statutory approval process provided by the Building Act. There are significant impracticalities in this approach, particularly for homeowners in having to call in a licensed builder to undertake or

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