Page 4221 - Week 13 - Thursday, 19 November 2015

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reasonable grounds for suspecting that a closed reserve declaration was in force. While the offence for entering a closed reserve is a strict liability offence, the expansion of the available defence mitigates the concern of catching the general public in an inadvertent breach of the law.

I would now like to move on to another principal amendment made by the bill. In 2014, the territory’s asbestos management framework was harmonised with that of other model jurisdictions in accordance with the inter-governmental agreement for regulatory and operational reform in occupational health and safety area. The general outcome was that work health and safety dangerous substances laws regulate asbestos work rather than the construction and building laws.

The Planning, Building and Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2015 (No 1) made amendments to various pieces of building and construction legis1ation, which meant that builders were responsible for ensuring building work aspects complied with building and construction laws, while asbestos safety aspects of such work continued to be regulated under work health and safety laws. This result ensured there was no gap in the regulatory oversight and management of these areas.

PBAELAB 2015 (No 1) included a consequential amendment which omitted item 25 of schedule 1 of part 1.3 of the Building (General) Regulation because it related to asbestos. This item 25 had exempted the handling of asbestos cement sheets of not greater than 10 square metres from parts 3, 5 and 6 of the Building Act. Clause 4 of this bill, PBAELAB 2015 (No 2), proposes a technical amendment to the building regulation to reinstate the previous item 25 exemption of handling asbestos cement sheets, with some additional modifications.

In summary, this means that the removal of bonded asbestos or cement sheets does not require building approval under the Building Act. The amendment facilitates the removal of broken asbestos cement sheets and their replacement with an equivalent material such as fibre cement sheet provided that the work complies with the relevant work safety laws concerning asbestos work and with the Building Code of Australia, and is done in a proper and skilful way. For example, where an asbestos sheet eave on a school building is broken by a cricket ball, the broken sheet will be able to be removed and replaced with a fibre cement sheet without the need for a building certifier, building plans, a building approval, a licensed builder and a certificate of use.

The safety risk elements of this work, such as removing and handling bonded asbestos sheeting, will continue to be regulated by work safety laws and also other Building Act requirements, including compliance with the Building Code and requirements for work to be carried out in a proper and skilful way. Reinstating this exemption is necessary because it has become apparent that the effect of removing this exemption is to bring minor non-structural maintenance works under the building approval regime and impose administrative red tape that does not appreciably improve regulatory outcomes.

This bill also makes a number of other minor technical and editorial amendments to various pieces of legislation to improve the clarity of drafting, to affirm the intent of planning and environment processes, and to fix minor editorial errors. For example,

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