Page 616 - Week 02 - Thursday, 16 February 2017

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The decision of the commonwealth government ignores the evidence and damages our community. The ACT Labor government’s goal is to have a justice system that is accessible, transparent and timely. Community legal centre funding is one of the most efficient, most fair ways to ensure that our legal system serves those who are disadvantaged. A justice system is not accessible if it only works for people with the financial resources to hire a lawyer.


MR PARTON: My question is to the Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations in regard to loose-fill asbestos. Has WorkSafe ACT tested neighbouring properties after demolition of Mr Fluffy sites to see if those neighbouring properties had been contaminated by traces of asbestos?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: As I have said, air quality monitoring has been undertaken on 100 per cent of the demolition projects, but I would have to take the specifics of the question on notice.

MR PARTON: From the perspective of the minister, what level of confidence can neighbours of Mr Fluffy properties or purchasers of the properties have that all asbestos has been removed from neighbouring properties?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I think the ACT community as a whole and purchasers of neighbouring properties can have a high level of confidence given the processes that WorkSafe has in place to monitor the demolition of all Mr Fluffy properties and the fact that air quality monitoring, as I am advised, does take place and that WorkSafe inspectors, experienced inspectors, are on sites across the city every day. Attendance is based on a risk-based approach.

To put the extent of those words in perspective, to date over 530 Mr Fluffy houses have been demolished, which is more than 200,000 hours of demolition and remediation work. In this time, there have been no major injuries sustained on sites or safety concerns affecting the broader community, which would include neighbouring properties. Again, I will go and look into the specifics, but I am assured that WorkSafe is taking this matter very seriously.

MR COE: Minister, what levels of confidence do you have in the asbestos removal program, in particular the air sampling, given the concerns of the Auditor-General, especially as clarified in the corrigendum issued a week or so after the Auditor-General published her report?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: As I said earlier, we welcome the review findings of the Auditor-General. We are preparing our response to the recommendations outlined in the report. I am assured that WorkSafe is conducting its work in a way that is focused on safety. Safety is the key priority. We understand that some issues have been raised around the administrative practices and the documented frameworks and policies. Improvements are being undertaken in relation to this. The government is preparing a full response to the recommendations which will be released in due course.

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