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Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill 2013

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2010-2011-2012-2013

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASBESTOS SAFETY AND ERADICATION AGENCY BILL 2013

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations,

the Honourable William Richard Shorten, MP)



 



ASBESTOS SAFETY AND ERADICATION AGENCY BILL 2013

 

OUTLINE

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill (the Bill) will provide for the establishment of a national agency, known as the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (the Agency) as recommended by the Asbestos Management Review Report June 2012 .

Australia was one of the highest per capita users of asbestos in the world. As a direct consequence of this high usage, recent studies have indicated that the incidence of asbestos related disease, such as mesothelioma is increasing. While asbestos-related diseases have traditionally been linked to workers who had direct contact with the material (such as through mining or by working with asbestos in manufacturing processes), there is now evidence to suggest a developing demographic in the wider population including home renovators and their families who are being exposed to asbestos fibres through unsafe removal practices, poor maintenance or damage of asbestos containing materials.

Regulation of asbestos issues is a matter for all levels of government in Australia. The prevalence of asbestos in our built and natural environment also means that asbestos regulation spans multiple areas of government, including health, environment, urban planning and workplace health and safety. The involvement of multiple governments across these diverse areas means that efforts to address asbestos issues have been fragmented and duplicative.

In 2010 the Australian Government established the Asbestos Management Review to make recommendations for the development of a national strategic plan to improve asbestos management and awareness in Australia. The Review report was released in August 2012 and made 12 recommendations.

In the main, the recommendations addressed the structure and content of the national strategic plan. However, the review also recommended the establishment of a new national body to administer that plan.

The functions of the Agency will include:

a)       to encourage, coordinate, monitor and report on the implementation of the National Strategic Plan;

b)       to review and amend the National Strategic Plan as required by the National Strategic Plan or at the request of the Minister;

c)       to publish and promote the National Strategic Plan;

d)      to provide advice to the Minister about asbestos safety, if requested to do so by the Minister;

e)       to liaise with Commonwealth, State, Territory and local and other governments, agencies or bodies about:

                                i.             the implementation, review or amendment of the National Strategic Plan; or

                              ii.             asbestos safety ; and

f)        to commission, monitor and promote research about asbestos safety.

 

The Agency will comprise a CEO and Staff. The CEO will manage the Agency and be responsible for the performance of its functions.

The Bill will also establish a council, to be known as the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council (the Council), which will have the functions of providing advice to the CEO and Minister. The Council will consist of: a Chair; one member representing the Commonwealth; two members representing state, territory and local governments; and four other members appointed by the Minister.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

The cost to establish a new statutory agency will be $12.3 million over the forward estimates.



 

ASBESTOS SAFETY AND ERADICATION AGENCY BILL 2013

 

Part 1—Preliminary

 

Overview

1.       Part 1 sets out various preliminary provisions, including definitions.

Notes on clauses

Clause 1 - Short title

2.       Clause 1 provides that, once enacted, the short title of the Bill will be the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Act 2013 .

Clause 2 - Commencement

3.       The table in this clause sets out when the Bill’s provisions will commence.

Clause 3 - Definitions

4.       This clause sets out the definitions of significant terms used in other provisions throughout the Bill.

Clause 4 - Crown to be bound

5.       This clause provides that the Bill binds the Crown in each of its capacities.

Clause 5 - Extension to external territories

6.       This clause provides that the Bill will have application in every external Territory.

 

 

 

 



Part 2—Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency

 

Overview

7.       Part 2 establishes the Agency and sets out its functions and constitution.

Notes on clauses

Clause 6 - Establishment

8.       This clause establishes the Agency.

Clause 7 - Constitution of the Agency

9.       This clause provides that the Agency consists of the CEO and the staff of the Agency. The note to this clause makes it clear that the Agency does not have a legal identity separate from the Commonwealth.  It is intended that the Agency will be a prescribed agency for the purposes of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (the FMA Act). This means the Agency will be subject to the FMA Act.

Clause 8 - Functions of the Agency

10.   This clause sets out the functions of the Agency, which are:

·          to encourage, coordinate, monitor and report on the implementation of the National Strategic Plan;

·          to review and amend the National Strategic Plan as required by the National Strategic Plan or at the request of the Minister;

·          to publish and promote the National Strategic Plan;

·          to provide advice to the Minister about asbestos safety, if requested to do so by the Minister;

·          to liaise with Commonwealth, State, Territory and local and other governments, agencies or bodies about the implementation, review or amendment of the National Strategic Plan, or asbestos safety; and

·          to commission, monitor and promote research about asbestos safety.

 

11.   It also provides the Agency with the power to do all things that are necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of its functions.

12.   In performing its functions, the Agency must act in accordance with the National Strategic Plan and any annual operational plan.

13.   The functions of the Agency are constrained by constitutional limits. The Agency may perform its functions only for purposes listed in subclause 8(4).

Clause 9 - Agency to have the privileges and immunities of the Crown

14.   This clause provides that the Agency has the privileges and immunities of the Crown in right of the Commonwealth.



Part 3—Chief Executive Officer

 

Overview

15.   Part 3 deals with the functions, responsibilities and obligations of the CEO, including the CEO’s relationship with the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council (the Council). Part 3 also deals with the terms and conditions of the CEO’s appointment, remuneration and termination of appointment. Finally, Part 3 allows the CEO to establish Committees to assist the CEO and the Council in the performance of their functions.

Notes on clauses

Division 1 - Functions of the CEO etc.

Clause 10 - Chief Executive Officer

16.   This clause provides that there is to be a CEO. 

Clause 11 - Functions of the CEO

17.   This clause sets out the functions of the CEO. The CEO is to manage the affairs of the Agency and ensure the Agency performs its functions. The CEO has power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of his or her functions.

Clause 12 - Working with the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council

18.   This clause requires the CEO to have regard to any advice, recommendations, or guidelines given by the Council when performing the CEO’s functions.

19.   The CEO may attend meetings of the Council.

Clause 13 - Keeping the Minister informed etc.

20.   This clause requires the CEO to keep the Minister informed of matters relating to the performance of the Agency’s functions. The CEO must give the Minister such reports, documents and information in relation to those operations as the Minister requires. For example, it is anticipated that the CEO will be required to provide an annual update to the Minister on the implementation of the National Strategic Plan.

Clause 14 - Minister may give directions to the CEO

21.   The Minister may, by legislative instrument, give written directions to the CEO about the performance of the Agency’s functions. The CEO must comply with these directions, unless the direction relates to the CEO’s performance of functions or exercise of powers under the Public Service Act 1999 (Public Service Act) in relation to the Agency.

22.   A note alerts the reader to the fact that section 42 (disallowance) and Part 6 (sunsetting) of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 (Legislative Instruments Act) do not apply to the directions given by the Minister.

Division 2 - Appointment of the CEO

Clause 15 - Appointment

23.   This clause provides that the CEO is appointed by the Minister by written instrument, on a full time basis, and holds office for the period specified in the instrument of appointment, which cannot be more than 5 years. However, as the note points out in reference to section 33AA of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 , the CEO may be reappointed.

Clause 16 - Acting appointment

24.   This clause provides that the Minister may appoint a person to act as the CEO during a vacancy in the office of CEO or when the CEO is absent from duty, overseas or unable to perform the duties of the office.

25.   A note in the clause draws the reader’s attention to sections 33AB and 33A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.  Section 33AB has the effect that anything done by or in relation to a person purporting to act under an appointment (including an acting appointment) is not invalid just because the appointment was not valid. Section 33A sets out the general rules that apply where a provision of an Act confers on a person or body, power to act in a particular office. 

Division 3 - Terms and conditions of appointment

Clause 17 - Remuneration and allowances

26.   This clause provides that the CEO is to be paid the remuneration determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, or, if no determination is made by the Remuneration Tribunal, the CEO is to be paid the remuneration prescribed by the rules. The allowances to be paid to the CEO will be those prescribed by the rules.

27.   This clause has effect subject to the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973.

Clause 18 - Leave of absence

28.   This clause sets out the arrangements for granting leave to the CEO. The CEO has the recreation leave entitlements determined by the Remuneration Tribunal.

29.   In addition, the Minister may grant the CEO a leave of absence, other than recreation leave, on the terms and conditions as to remuneration or otherwise as the Minister determines.

Clause 19 - Outside work

30.   This clause prevents the CEO from engaging in paid work outside the duties of his or her office without the Minister’s approval.

Clause 20 - Disclosure of interests

31.   This clause requires the CEO to give written notice to the Minister of all interests, pecuniary or otherwise, that the CEO has or acquires and that conflict or could conflict with the proper performance of the CEO’s functions.

Clause 21 - Other terms and conditions

32.   This clause provides that the Minister may determine the terms and conditions of the office of the CEO where the terms and conditions are not covered by this Act.

Clause 22 - Resignation

33.   This clause deals with the form and effect of the CEO’s resignation.

Clause 23 - Termination of appointment

34.   This clause sets out the reasons for which the Minister may terminate the appointment of the CEO. The Minister may terminate the appointment of the CEO for reasons including unsatisfactory performance.

Division 4 - Committees

Clause 24- Committees

35.   This clause provides that the CEO may establish committees to assist in the performance of the CEO or the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council in the performance of their functions. The CEO has the power to determine the constitution of the committee, and is required to set out in writing the committee’s terms of reference, the terms and conditions of appointment of the members of the committee and the procedures to be followed by the Committee.

36.   Subclause 24(4) provides that an instrument made under this clause is not a legislative instrument. This subclause is included to assist readers, by pointing out that the instrument would not be a legislative instrument within meaning of section 5 of the Legislative Instruments Act.



Part 4—Staff etc.

 

Overview

37.   Part 4 deals with staff, consultants and persons assisting the Agency.

Notes on clauses

Clause 25 - Staff

38.   This clause provides that the staff of the Agency must be persons engaged under the Public Service Act 1999 . For the purposes of the Public Service Act, the Agency (consisting of the CEO and staff) constitutes a Statutory Agency, and the CEO is the Head of that Statutory Agency.

Clause 26 - Consultants

39.   This clause is included for the avoidance of doubt and provides that the CEO may engage consultants to assist in the performance of the Agency’s functions. The consultants would be engaged on the terms and conditions that the CEO determines in writing.

Clause 27 - Persons assisting the Agency

40.   This clause sets out the persons who may assist the Agency in its functions. These persons are employees of Agencies (within the meaning of the Public Service Act), officers or employees of a State or Territory or officers or employees of authorities of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory. The provision would allow staff from state and territory agencies or local government to be seconded to the Agency for the purpose of providing it with advice and assistance.

 



Part 5—Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council

Overview

41.   Part 5 Division 1 deals with the functions and responsibilities of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council (the Council). Division 2 deals with the terms and conditions of the Council members’ appointments, and Division 3 deals with remuneration, terms and conditions and termination of appointments. Finally, Division 4 provides that the Council must hold meetings as necessary for the efficient performance of the Council’s functions.

Notes on clauses

Division 1 Functions of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council etc.



Clause 28 - Establishment

42.   This clause establishes the Council.

Clause 29 - Function of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council

43.   This clause provides that the functions of the Council are to:

·           provide advice and make recommendations to the CEO about the performance of the Agency’s functions; and

·          provide advice to the Minister about asbestos safety, if requested to do so by the Minister.

44.   The recommendations or advice may be given upon request of the CEO or on the initiative of the Council. However, the Council cannot give any directions to the CEO.

45.   The Council may provide advice to the CEO by issuing written guidelines. Subclause (5) is included for the avoidance of doubt, and provides that guidelines issued by the CEO are not a legislative instrument.

46.   The Council has the power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of its function. The Council may involve other persons with expertise in matters relating to asbestos safety for the purpose of assisting the Council to perform its functions when it considers it necessary or appropriate to do so.

Clause 30 - Minister may give directions to the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council

47.   This clause permits the Minister to give written directions, by way of legislative instrument, to the Council about the performance of the Council’s functions. If the Minister gives such a direction, the Council must comply.

48.   A note alerts the reader to the fact that section 42 (disallowance) and Part 6 (sunsetting) of the Legislative Instruments Act do not apply to the directions given by the Minister.



 

Division 2 Membership of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Counci l

Clause 31 - Membership

49.   This clause provides that Council is to consist of the Chair, one member representing the Commonwealth, two members representing state, territory and local governments; and four other members.

Clause 32 - Appointment of Council members

50.   This clause provides that Council members are appointed by the Minister by written instrument, on a part-time basis by the Minister. The instrument appointing a member to the Council is required to specify whether the member is appointed as the Chair, to represent the Commonwealth, to represent state, territory or local governments, or as one of the other members of the Council. Other members of the Council must have knowledge or experience in one or more of the following fields:

·          asbestos safety, including the identification, management, removal, transportation, storage or disposal of asbestos;

·          public health issues relating to asbestos;

·          asbestos-related diseases;

·          the representation of, or the provision of support services to, persons with asbestos related diseases and their families;

·          financial management or corporate governance.

Clause 33 - Term of Appointment

51.   This clause provides that a Council Member will hold office for the period of not more than 3 years as specified in their instrument of appointment.

52.   The note to this clause notes that section 33AA of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 applies in relation to reappointment. Section 33AA provides that if an Act confers a power to make an appointment, the power is taken to include a power of reappointment.

Clause 34 - Acting appointment

53.   Clause 34 provides for acting arrangements for both the Chair of the Council and Council members.

54.   Subclause 34(1) provides that the Minister may, by written instrument, appoint a Council member to act as Chair of the Council during a vacancy in that office or during any period that the Chair is either absent from Australia or otherwise unable to perform the duties of the office.

55.   Subclause 34(2) provides that the Minister may, by written instrument, appoint a person to act as a Council member (other than as Chair of the Council) during a vacancy in that office or during any period that a Council member is either absent from Australia or otherwise unable to perform the duties of that office.

56.   Subclauses 34(3) and (4) provide that a person may not be appointed on an acting basis to fill a vacancy left by a non-government representative on the Council unless that person is eligible to be appointed as a Council member under clause 32(3) of the Bill.

Division 3—Terms and conditions of appointment

Clause 35 - Remuneration and allowances

57.   Subclause 35(1) provides that members of the Council are to be paid the remuneration that is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. If no such determination is in operation, members are to be paid the remuneration that is prescribed by the rules.

58.   Subclause 35(2) sets out the range of circumstances in which a Council member is not entitled to be paid remuneration provided for by subclause 35(1). This includes situations in which Council members is employed directly by a State, a public statutory corporation, or a company with interests beneficially owned by a State.

Clause 36 - Leave of absence

59.   Clause 36 provides that the Minister may grant leave of absence to the Chair of the Council on the terms and conditions that the Minister determines.

60.   Subclause 36(2) provides that the Chair of the Council may grant leave of absence to Council members on the terms and conditions that the Chair determines. Subclause 36(3) provides that if such a leave of absence extends beyond 3 months, the Chair must notify the Minister of that leave of absence.

Clause 37 - Disclosure of interests to the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council

61.   This clause provides that Council members must disclosure any interests, pecuniary or otherwise, that relate to a matter being considered or that is about to be considered by the Council. This disclosure must be made as soon as possible after the relevant facts have come to Council members’ attention. The disclosure must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting of the Council and in any advice provided, or recommendation made, to the CEO by the Council.

Clause 38 - Other terms and conditions

62.   This clause provides that, in relation to matters not covered by this Bill, Council members hold office on the terms and conditions that are determined by the Minister.



 

Clause 39 - Resignation

63.   This clause provides that a Council member may resign his or her appointment by giving written notice to the Minister. A Council member’s resignation will take effect on the day that it is received by the Minister or on the date that is specified in the written notice.

Clause 40 - Termination of appointment

64.   This clause sets out the circumstances in which the Minister may terminate the appointment of a Council member. The grounds on which a Council member’s appointment may be terminated include misbehaviour, failure to comply with clause 37 (relating to the disclosure of interests), bankruptcy, unauthorised extended leave or if the member is incapable of performing the duties of his or her office.

Division 4—Meetings of Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council

Clause 41 - Meetings of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council

65.   Clause 41 provides that the Chair of the Council must hold such meetings as are necessary for the efficient performance of the Council’s functions.

66.   Subclause 41(2) provides that the Chair must preside at all meetings at which he or she is present, while subclause 41(3) provides that Council members must appoint one of themselves to preside over meetings where the Chair is not present. The CEO may attend meetings of the Council (see subclause 12(2)).

 



Part 6—Planning and reporting

 

Overview

67.   Part 6 deals with the Agency’s annual operational plan and annual report.

Division 1—Annual operational plan

Clause 42 - Annual operational plan

68.   Clause 42 provides that the Agency must, before the start of the 12-month period that begins on 1 July in a year, provide to the Minister an annual operational plan relating to that period for his or her approval. The plan must set out the activities that will be undertaken by the Agency during the 12-month period encompassed by the plan and establish performance indicators against which the Agency’s performance is to be assessed.

69.   Subclause 42(3) provides that the annual operational plan is not to be inconsistent with the National Strategic Plan. This reflects the fact that the activities of the Agency are to support the implementation of the National Strategic Plan.

70.   Subclause 42(4) provides for the development of the first operational plan, should the Agency be established on or after 1 July of a year. In this case, the Agency must provide the first operational plan to the Minister as soon as practicable after the commencement of the section.

Clause 43 - Approval of the annual operational plan

71.   Clause 43 provides that the Minister may, by written notice given to the Agency, either approve the annual operational plan or request that amendments be made to the plan prior to resubmission for approval.

72.   Subclause 43(2) provides that the annual operational plan will come into effect on the first day it is approved by the Minister or on the first day of the period to which it relates (whichever is later).

Clause 44 - Variation of the annual operational plan

73.   This clause provides that the Agency may vary an annual operational plan and submit it to the Minister for approval. Such a proposal to vary the plan may be at the request of the Minister or on the initiative of the Agency.

74.   Following receipt of the proposed variation, the Minister may approve the variation of the annual operational plan by written notice to the Agency. If approved, the variation would take effect on the day that it is approved by the Minister.

Division 2—Annual report

Clause 45 - Annual report

75.   Clause 45 provides that the Agency must prepare and give to the Minister for presentation to the Parliament a report on the Agency’s operations during that year. The preparation and presentation of this report must take place as soon as practicable after the end of the financial year to which it relates. A Note reminds the reader that where an Act does not specify a period in which a periodic report is to be furnished, section 34C of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 applies and requires that the report be furnished as soon as practicable and, in any event, within 6 months of the end of the period to which the report relates.

76.   Subclause 45(2) deals with the preparation of the first report and provides that if the Agency is established part way through the financial year, the annual report should relate to the period that starts on the commencement of this section and ends on the next 30 June.



 

Part 7—Miscellaneous

 

Overview

77.   Part 7 deals with the delegation of the Agency’s powers, the Minister’s ability to review the Agency’s roles and functions and provides for the Minister to make rules to support the Act.

Clause 46 - Delegation

78.   Clause 46 provides that the Agency may, in writing, delegate any or all of its functions or powers under the Bill to either the CEO, or an SES employee or acting SES employee who is a member of the staff of the Agency.

79.   Subclause 46(2) provides that, when exercising a power or performing a function that is delegated under this clause, the delegate must comply with any directions provided by the Agency.

Clause 47 - Review of the Agency’s role and functions

80.   This clause provides that the Minister must cause a review of the Agency’s ongoing role and functions to be conducted. This review must start 5 years after the commencement of this section, be complete within 6 months and result in a written report, which must be laid before each House of Parliament within 15 sitting days of its completion.

Clause 48 - Rules

81.   This clause provides that the Minister may make rules prescribing matters that are required or permitted by this Bill to be prescribed or that are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out for giving effect to this Bill. 



Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill 2013

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill 2013 (the Bill)

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill (the Bill) will provide for the establishment of a national asbestos safety agency, known as the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (the Agency), with responsibility for the implementation, review, and further development of the National Strategic Plan for asbestos awareness, removal and management in Australia, as recommended by the Asbestos Management Review Report June 2012 .

Human Rights Implications

Right to safe and health working conditions

Article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) requires that State Parties to the Covenant recognise the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable working conditions, including the right to safe and healthy working conditions.

The use of all forms of asbestos has been banned in Australian since the end of 2003. This means the import, manufacture, supply, sale and use or reuse of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials is no longer permitted. The ban does not apply to asbestos installed in residential or commercial buildings (i.e. in-situ asbestos) prior to the ban being in place. Notwithstanding the national ban on the use of asbestos in Australia, the continued existence of the substance in existing buildings and structures means that the health effects of asbestos exposure will continue to be felt for years to come due to continued exposures and the long latency periods between exposure and the onset of asbestos-related diseases.

Through its administration of the National Strategic Plan for asbestos awareness, removal and management in Australia, the Agency will actively work to reduce the risks posed by asbestos in workplaces around Australia. This will promote the right to safe and healthy working conditions for workers throughout Australia.

Right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

Article 12 of the ICESCR requires that State Parties to the Covenant recognise the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This includes taking steps towards the improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene, and the prevention and control of occupational and other diseases.

Asbestos was widely used in the building construction and manufacturing industries in a significant number and variety of products. It was used extensively in a wide variety of applications during the 1950s to the 1980s, ranging from basic building materials such as asbestos cement sheeting and thermal insulation, to gaskets and brake pads for vehicles and machinery. Although the use of asbestos containing products was banned following increased awareness of the carcinogenic nature of inhaled asbestos fibres, significant amounts of asbestos containing materials remain in the built environment in Australia. Additional risks are posed by asbestos containing materials that are inappropriately disposed of, and naturally occurring asbestos which is present in geographical formations in certain parts of Australia.

Inhaled asbestos fibres pose a significant risk to physical health as they are capable of inducing chronic inflammation of the lung tissues, and may cause a number of diseases. These include pleural diseases, asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Due to its extensive past use, Australia has one of the highest incidences of mesothelioma in the world. Due to the long latency period between asbestos exposure and symptoms of the disease appearing, it is expected that the numbers of cases of diagnosis and death from mesothelioma will continue to rise.

In light of the health risks posed by exposure to asbestos fibres, the work of the Agency in implementing the National Strategic Plan for asbestos awareness, removal and management in Australia will positively engage the right to the highest attainable standard of physical health. The functions of the Agency that will contribute to this right include:

-    Encouraging, coordinating, monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the National Strategic Plan;

-    Liaising with Commonwealth, State, Territory and local and other governments, agencies or bodies about matters related to asbestos safety; and

-    Commissioning, monitoring and promoting research about matters related to asbestos management.

These activities will contribute to the improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene throughout Australia by promoting best practice and encouraging coordination between responsible entities, as well as contributing to the prevention and control of asbestos-related diseases arising through exposure to asbestos fibres in both occupational and non-occupational situations. As such, the Bill will make a significant contribution to the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical health by all Australians.

Right to Privacy

The right to privacy in Article 17 of the ICCPR prohibits unlawful or arbitrary interferences with a person's privacy, family, home and correspondence. In performing the functions placed upon it by section 14 of the Bill, the Agency may on occasion be required to handle personal information submitted to it by individuals or third parties.

Any information that is collected by the Agency for the purposes of performing its functions under the Bill will be dealt with in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act), which creates a framework for government agencies in relation to the collection, storage and disclosure of personal information. The Bill does not contain any provisions that would allow it to compel a person to disclosure information, nor to share any information it holds in a manner that is inconsistent with the Privacy Act. As such, the Bill does not limit the right to privacy.

Conclusion

The Bill is compatible with human rights because it advances the protection of human rights.

William Richard Shorten, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations