Page 1318 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 27 March 2012

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University of Canberra and Canberra Institute of Technology

DR BOURKE: Mr Speaker, I rise to clarify my answer to Mrs Dunne’s last question. The proposal for UCIT was to transfer courses in the AQF5, AQF6 space to UCIT. I need to clarify that they were going to be possibly transferred to the collaborative venture, but that does not necessarily mean that they would not have been taught at CIT.


DR BOURKE: Mr Speaker, on 22 March I took on notice questions from Ms Hunter, Mr Doszpot and Mr Hanson concerning asbestos in schools—that is, numbers of schools in the ACT with asbestos in their construction and plans for the removal of asbestos from these schools. The answers to the members’ questions are as follows. Asbestos was a commonly used building material in residential and commercial buildings in Australia until around 1988. The use of asbestos material was banned in 2003. Asbestos remains safe if it is not disturbed or is not deteriorating.

The Education and Training Directorate arranges for inspections and the preparation of survey reports, hazardous materials survey and a management plan for all schools built prior to 2003. These are undertaken by licensed assessors engaged by the directorate. Where necessary, these reports include an asbestos register. Some 68 public schools in the ACT have specific hazardous material survey and management plans which contain sitemaps that identify asbestos material onsite. These surveys are reviewed annually and, where required, the asbestos register is updated. The reports and maps are displayed prominently at school entryways and are made available for inspection by staff, parents and other visitors.

Tradespeople undertaking repairs, maintenance and other works are required to be inducted to the school site, which includes their sighting and acknowledgement of the hazardous materials survey and management plans prior to work being undertaken. I will table copies of the 68 hazardous materials survey and management plans by close of business today, as agreed.

The ACT government has to date allocated funding for two stages for the removal of asbestos materials from ACT public schools: $3.2 million for the asbestos removal program in the 2008-09 appropriation No 3, and $3.4 million for the hazardous materials removal program stage 2 in the 2011-12 ACT budget. The list of removal work tasks completed in the asbestos removal program is provided, together with the list of work tasks completed and scheduled for the hazardous materials removal under stage 2. I note these works address the priority removal tasks and not necessarily the removal of asbestos that has been assessed as safe.

Like public schools, non-government schools in the ACT that contain asbestos are required to have similar management plans in place as set out in the dangerous substances regulation of 2004. May I remind the Assembly that many of us live in homes which have asbestos in their construction. It was a common building material.

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