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Wednesday, 16 October 1985
Page: 1322

Senator COLSTON —I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services. Given the recent decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal upholding a Commonwealth employee's claim that smoking in the work place was a health hazard, what steps has the Government taken to protect the rights of smokers and non-smokers who work for Commonwealth departments and statutory authorities?

Senator GIETZELT —I am aware that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal recently established that a public servant with a low tolerance to cigarette smoke and other pollutants was entitled to compensation as a result of working in a smoke filled and polluted environment in Canberra. Therefore, an important principle has been established in respect of the problems of smoking on which there has been a bipartisan view in this chamber for quite some time. I think we recognise that, more and more, mature persons are conscious of the dangers of smoking and of being in smoking areas. As a result of that, almost a year ago on 20 December 1984, the Public Service Board issued a memorandum entitled `Smoking in the Work Place' to all departments and authorities. This memorandum recommends a ban on smoking only in certain areas of buildings and that managers should consult with smokers and non-smokers alike with a view to taking into account their views and their environment rather than prohibiting smoking altogether. The responsibility to implement this memorandum lies with the management in each department.

The Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services indicates that his Department is responsible only for those areas in Commonwealth buildings which are multi-occupied. These common use areas include lifts, foyers and cafeterias. It is my understanding that the Public Service Board has indicated that health risk areas include such places as canteens, training, conference, interview and waiting rooms, as well as reception areas, and that there should be a complete ban on smoking in those areas in order to protect the overall position of all people involved in either the work or the interviewing that is undertaken in Public Service establishments. However, as the court case has just been decided in favour of the public servant, I am led to believe that the Public Service Board will be re-examining its earlier memorandum with a view to taking into account this latest decision.