Page 3400 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 19 August 2009

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Having said that, I would like to again thank Ms Burch for raising this matter today. We look forward to a very successful focus on business month next September.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.40): I thank Ms Burch for bringing forward this motion. It is obviously a matter that is of some tenderness for the government because I notice that the Chief Minister has put out two press releases about this subject in this week. If the number of press releases can be used as a performance measure, it obviously shows that the government is interested in the issue.

Mr Smyth has dealt with the history underlying the demise of previous smaller micro business organisations in the ACT. I want to speak briefly on one issue that hugely impacts on small business and micro business, particularly small business in the ACT. I will be speaking on this at some length over the next two or three weeks of sitting because it is of such importance. I refer to the implementation of new occupational health and safety regulations.

The occupational health and safety regulations are due for implementation on 1 October this year. There is considerable concern in the community about the imposition of these regulations and the consultation process that relates to this. I have received a considerable number of submissions in relation to this and I think that I should dwell on some of them.

First and foremost is the impact that this will have on business. The ACT, along with every other jurisdiction in the country, has joined up to a harmonised OH&S process that will be introduced nationally by 2011. But the ACT wants to get out in front of that and has introduced new workplace safety legislation. These OH&S guidelines will have an effective life of only 15 months before they are superseded by the national harmonisation process, which is really smart. So we change and we change and we change for change’s sake.

That really gives business certainty. That is really providing a great service and cutting the red tape when it comes to small and micro businesses. That is the underlying thing: why do they want to do it in the first place and why are they imposing this on small businesses in particular? The take-out message from all the submissions I have received is that this is a set of regulations that has been written for big business and imposed upon small business.

I have received representations from the Pharmacy Guild, which represents all of those small shop owners who run community pharmacies across the ACT. This will have a huge impact on their businesses. I specifically sought out the guild because OH&S is a very important issue when dealing with poisons, classified drugs and things like this. It is an important issue. What is being imposed upon small business like the pharmacists is unreasonable.

Instances of other unreasonable things include the provision of amenities. Under the OH&S legislation, every builder will have to provide on site a shower for their workers. That is fine if you are working on a large site with large site offices and things like that. But on every block where a house is being built, these requirements necessitate the provision of a shower. The failure to provide a shower is a strict

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