Questions and Answers No. 22, Tuesday 18 June 1996

All Hansard & Papers this day





    PARLIAMENT OF NEW SOUTH WALES


    __________

    No. 22
    __________



    LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL




    QUESTIONS

    AND

    ANSWERS


    ____________________

    SECOND SESSION OF THE FIFTY-FIRST PARLIAMENT
    ____________________



    TUESDAY 18 JUNE 1996


    (The Questions and Answers Paper published for the first sitting day in each week will contain, by number and title, all unanswered questions, together with questions to which answers have been received on the previous sitting and any new questions. On subsequent days, new questions are printed, as are questions to which answers were received the previous day. Consequently the full text of any question will be printed only twice: when notice is given; and, when answered.)


    Notice given on date shown
    Publication of QuestionAnswer to be lodged by
    Q&A No. 11 (Nil Questions) -
    Q&A No. 12 (including Questions Nos 52 to 56)25 June 1996
    Q&A No. 13 (including Questions Nos 57 to 60)26 June 1996
    Q&A No. 14 (including Question No. 61)27 June 1996
    Q&A No. 15 (including Question No. 62)2 July 1996
    Q&A No. 16 (including Questions Nos 63 and 64)3 July 1996
    Q&A No. 17 (including Question No. 65)4 July 1996
    Q&A No. 18 (Nil Questions) -
    Q&A No. 19 (Nil Questions) -
    Q&A No. 20 (including Questions Nos 66 to 72)11 July 1996
    Q&A No. 21 (including Questions Nos 73 to 75)22 July 1996
    Q&A No. 22 (Nil Questions) -
    14 MAY 1996

    (Paper No. 9)

    *37 AGRICULTURE - BLUE HELIOTROPE WEED - Mr Bull asked the Minister for Community Services, Minister for Aged Services, and Minister for Disability Services representing the Minister for Agriculture -

    (1) Are chemical and conventional methods of controlling Blue Heliotrope weed failing?

    (2) Is Blue Heliotrope weed spreading despite the efforts of local farmers to control it using chemical and conventional methods?

    (3) As current control methods in Australia are not preventing the spread of this invasive and poisonous weed, will the Government ensure that biological control research be resumed as soon as possible?

    Answer -

    (1) Control of isolated plants of Blue Heliotrope is possible and some farmers have managed to prevent Blue Heliotrope from establishing on their properties. Control is also possible if the land can be cultivated and cropped for a few years. Control is difficult, but not impossible, once there is a dense infestation of the weed on non-arable land. In this latter situation, many farmers have decided that control is not economical. NSW Agriculture district agronomists have reviewed recent pasture and herbicide trial results and an Agnote is being prepared which will give the best bet control options for different situations. This Agnote will be widely publicised when it is available.

    (2) Blue Heliotrope is continuing to spread, and this is a cause for concern since the plant is toxic to stock, reduces pasture productivity and invades bushland areas. The initial infestations appear to be innocuous (the plant itself is attractive and was introduced to Australia as a garden plant), but can build up and overwhelm annual pastures. However, perennial grasses, including the native redgrass, compete well with Blue Heliotrope provided they are not overgrazed.

    (3) Biological control is a long-term option. It would take at least 5 years to find, evaluate and release a disease or insect for biological control of Blue Heliotrope and past experience is that it usually takes 10 years from release for a biological control agent to have a significant effect on a weed. Biological control is rarely a panacea. However, biological control can reduce the magnitude of the problem and improve the effectiveness of other control options. One strategy which will be important irrespective of the success of the search for biological control is the use of more competitive pastures. Vigorous perennial grass pastures can substantially reduce Blue Heliotrope problems.

    Research on biological control is expensive, since it involves extensive work overseas in the initial phases and use of expensive quarantine facilities during evaluation of potential agents. This type of work requires support from one of the rural industry research funds. NSW Agriculture is helping the Blue Heliotrope Action Group to develop funding submissions for the biological control of Blue Heliotrope and would also assist with the increase and distribution of any agents which are released.


    *38 AGRICULTURE - WEED ERADICATION - GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE - Mr Bull asked the Minister for Community Services, Minister for Aged Services, and Minister for Disability Services representing the Minister for Agriculture -

    (1) How much does the Government spend on weed eradication?

    (2) How much is expended in the metropolitan areas?

    (3) How much is expended in country areas?
    (4) Should monies be allocated where:

    (a) the problem is the worst; and

    (b) where a national economic benefit will be derived?

    (5) (a) Is the Government’s priority for funding allocation currently in favour of the country?

    (b) If not, why not?

    (6) Will the Government increase funding so as to address this important inhibitor to the economy of New South Wales?

    Answer -

    (1) Only in rare situations is eradication a feasible option. The normal objective is to manage weeds to reduce their effects on agriculture, the environment or human health. An eradication program is in progress for alligator weed at Barren Box Swamp near Griffith. $912,000 has been spent over 3 years and the total eradiation program will probably cost about $1.5 million.

    In 1995/96, the Government provided $5 million in the Noxious Weeds Grant to local control authorities to assist with control of noxious weeds. In addition, NSW Agriculture provides research and technical support estimated at $1.8 million. This was augmented by $586,000 from industry research funds.

    (2) In 1995/96, funding to councils in the Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong greater metropolitan areas from the Noxious Weeds Grant was $189,000. Councils receiving grants were on the periphery of the metropolitan areas and are responsible for significant agricultural areas.

    (3) In 1995/96, funding to councils, rural lands protection boards, trusts and State authorities outside the Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong greater metropolitan areas from the Noxious Weeds Grant was $4,469,000. In addition, $342,000 was used for control programs for specific weeds and for planning and co-ordination of noxious weed control.

    (4) Allocation of money from the Noxious Weeds Grant is recommended by the Noxious Weeds Advisory Committee which has broad representation from local government, State authorities responsible for significant areas of land and the community. Monies are allocated after considering equity between councils and the likely outcomes from the proposed weed control programs. The objective is to obtain the greatest benefit for the community.

    (5) The allocation of funding depends on the nature and extent of weed problems and the likely community benefit. At present, funds are mainly being expended in country areas.

    (6) It is acknowledged that costs of weed control operations have increased substantially, since the Noxious Weeds Grant was last increased in 1990, and that most councils contribute more than the amount required to match Government funds. There are also increasing community expectations that noxious weeds will be controlled for the benefit of agriculture and the environment.

    However, there is also a need to ensure that Government funds are used to maximum benefit. NSW Agriculture is developing a noxious weeds strategy which will consider the methods and objectives of noxious weed control and will ensure that best practice methodologies are adopted. A draft strategy will be circulated to councils and other interested bodies for comment in June 1996.

    The development of a weeds strategy, which is supported by all stakeholders, will provide a firm basis for considering the appropriate level of funding for the control of noxious weeds.
    *40 GAMING AND RACING - LICENSING LAWS - KINGS CROSS - Mr Bull asked the Minister for Community Services, Minister for Aged Services, and Minister for Disability Services representing the Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development -

    (1) (a) Were more than 300 breaches of the licensing laws, uncovered by the covert operations in the Kings Cross area, carried out by special inspectors of the task force established last year by the Department of Gaming and Racing?

    (b) If so, what were the nature of these breaches?

    (2) Of the breaches, how many were:

    (a) repeat offences;

    (b) first offences?

    Answer -

    (1) (a) Yes. A total of 386 offences and 172 breaches of conditions were detected during the operations of the Kings Cross task force, which would ground prosecution or disciplinary action before the Licensing Court.

    (b) A variety of breaches of the Liquor Act 1982 and Regulations were detected by the task force. They ranged from very serious cases of indecent conduct, solicitation for prostitution to the sale of alcohol without meals being available.

    (2) (a) The Kings Cross task force detected breaches of the Liquor Act at 52 licensed premises. 29 of the licensees had been previously convicted of similar Liquor Act offences. The remaining 23 licensees had not previously been the subject of disciplinary proceedings or prosecution action before the Licensing Court.

    (b) 103 of the offences detected were first offences.


    *41 FAIR TRADING - Mr TERRY LYNCH - BSC CONSUMER GRIEVANCES - Mr Jobling asked the Minister for Community Services, Minister for Aged Services, and Minister for Disability Services representing the Minister for Fair Trading, and Minister for Women -

    (1) Was Mr Terry Lynch appointed as a consumers’ independent solicitor following the establishment of the Inquiry into the Building Services Corporation Consumer Grievances?

    (2) (a) Was Mr Lynch appointed by the Minister?

    (b) If not, who appointed Mr Lynch?

    (3) What was the date of such an appointment?

    (4) What were the precise terms of his retainer and what was his remuneration?

    (5) (a) Were pro forma letters sent from the Inquiry into the Building Services Corporation Consumer Grievances to consumers offering compensation?

    (b) If so, when were such letters sent?

    (c) When did Mr Lynch first become aware of such letters?
    (6) When did Mr Lynch first become aware of any schedule accompanying those letters referred to in question (5)?

    (7) Was Mr Lynch involved in any way in formulating the wording of the letters referred to in question (5) or the schedule referred to in question (6)?

    (8) What is Mr Lynch’s advice as to the appropriateness of a complainant accepting the current offers in terms of:

    (a) the appropriateness of such terms and their currency in settlements against a government instrumentality; and

    (b) the appropriateness of such terms in the context of the Interim and Final Report of the Inquiry into the Building Services Corporation Consumer Grievances?

    (9) What legal avenues are open to complainants to challenge the manner in which the amounts of compensation have been calculated?

    (10) What legal avenues are open to the class of aggrieved consumers to challenge, as a class, how each of their amounts of compensation have been calculated?

    (11) What were the duties and obligations which bound Mr Lynch in regard to discharging his role as an independent lawyer having a watching brief for consumer interests?

    (12) (a) Did the Inquiry into the Building Services Corporation Consumer Grievances unilaterally restrict the time for acceptance of offers of compensation to 5.00 p.m., Friday 31 May 1996?

    (b) If so, what is the legal basis for this decision?

    (13) (a) Were the offers of compensation made by an inquiry having no legal existence?

    (b) Were the offers accompanied by cheques from the Building Services Corporation?

    (c) If so, on what legal basis can the Building Services Corporation cancel any such cheques without committing a breach of the Cheques Act?

    (14) Will all the compensation payments be subject to a review by the Auditor-General?

    Answer -

    (1) No. Mr Lynch was appointed to ensure a fair implementation of the recommendations of the inquiry.

    (2) (a) Yes. The Minister accepted the recommendations of the Interim Report No. 1 of the inquiry.

    (b) Not applicable.

    (3) Mr Lynch was appointed to the second phase of the inquiry as per the inquiry’s recommendation in December 1995.

    (4) The terms were those applicable to members of the scheduling panel and in line with average legal rates.

    (5) (a) No pro forma letters were used as each letter sent dealt with individual cases. However, the letters had a common structure.

    (b) The letters were sent from late December 1995 to March 1996.

    (c) Mr Lynch was aware of letters at all times as he supervised the process.

    (6) See answer (5) (c).

    (7) Yes.

    (8) (a) and (b) Not applicable as premised in question (1) and the answer to which is no.

    (9) The inquiry recommended offers. If the offers are not accepted, they have all the legal rights open to them which were in existence prior to the inquiry.

    (10) Not applicable.

    (11) Not applicable, see answer (1).

    (12) (a) As is common practice, the inquiry required most but not all recipients to finalise their acceptance of the offer made to them by a particular date, that being 5.00 p.m. 31 May 1996.

    (b) Not applicable, see answer (12) (a).

    (13) (a) No. The inquiry was established by a minute of the Executive Council.

    (b) Yes, where no further relevant paper work was required.

    (c) Not applicable, see answer (12) (a).

    (14) Yes.


    *42 ROADS - FREEWAY - CONCORD TO CITY - Mr Jobling asked the Treasurer, Minister for Energy, Minister for State and Regional Development, Minister Assisting the Premier, and Vice-President of the Executive Council representing the Minister for the Olympics, and Minister for Roads -

    (1) (a) Does the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) propose to construct a freeway from Concord to the City?

    (b) If so, when does the RTA intend to construct it?

    (2) Have discussions taken place with affected local councils about any such proposals?

    (3) What discussions have taken place with residents whose properties would be affected by such proposals?

    (4) (a) Has an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed freeway been prepared?

    (b) If so, who prepared it?

    (5) What is the estimated cost of any necessary private property acquisition?

    (6) What public land and/or open space would be affected?
    (7) Is the RTA currently considering, or has it previously considered, resuming land to the south of Parramatta Road to create an extension to the M4 to alleviate traffic congestion problems on Parramatta Road?

    (8) Will the Government undertake to conduct proper public discussion, consultation and agreement about compensation prior to any construction being undertaken?

    Answer -

    (1) (a) No.

    (b) Not applicable.

    (2) No.

    (3) Not applicable.

    (4) (a) Not applicable.

    (b) Not applicable.

    (5) Not applicable.

    (6) Not applicable.

    (7) No.

    (8) The construction of an extension of the M4 Motorway to the city is not on the Government’s agenda. In the event of such a proposal being considered in the future, the proposal would be subject to extensive community consultation.


    *43 COMMUNITY SERVICES - PARRAMATTA DIOCESE - CATHERINE VILLA - Mrs Forsythe asked the Minister for Community Services, Minister for Aged Services, and Minister for Disability Services -

    (1) Does the Government support the work of the Parramatta Diocese in providing supported accommodation and living and baby care skills at Catherine Villa at Quakers Hill?

    (2) How many State wards were referred to the villa by the Department of Community Services in 1995/96?

    (3) What other Government departments made referrals?

    (4) How old was the youngest teenager accommodated at the villa?

    (5) What funding is provided by the Government to support the villa?

    (6) Is sufficient funding provided to ensure staffing at night and on weekends?

    (7) Will the Government extend funding provided under the Community Services Grants Program to ensure that adequate staffing can be provided at the villa?

    Answer -

    (1) The Government acknowledges the valuable service provided by the Parramatta Diocese at the Catherine Villa Accommodation Unit at Quakers Hill.

    (2) 20.
    (3) Department of Community Services 15
    Department of Housing 7
    Department of Social Security 3
    NSW Police Service 3
    Department of Juvenile Justice 1

    (4) 14 years old.

    (5) The Department of Community Services provides $91,763 per annum through the Community Services Grants Program (CSGP) as a contribution towards the costs of the service.

    (6) Funding through the CSGP provides for 1 full-time youth worker (38 hours per week), 1 part-time youth worker (20 hours per week), 1 part-time trained nurse (20 hours per week) and administrative and operating costs.

    When the Ministry to Solo Parents and their Families project was first established, the project was supported and housed in a three-bedroom house at Blacktown by the Good Shepherd Sisters, a religious order of the Catholic Church. The Good Shepherd Sisters were able to provide a volunteer full-time live-in person to co-ordinate and support the project, including overnight stays and weekend supervision. The aim of the project was to provide accommodation support to pregnant teenagers. Initially, the project was fully self-funded and when funds were made available under the Western Sydney Area Assistance Scheme (WSAAS) in 1989, the project was able to cater for at least three teenagers at a time at the Blacktown residence.

    In 1992, the project was successful in securing a capital grant from the Department of Housing under the Crisis Accommodation Program (CAP) which enabled the Parramatta Diocese to build the Catherine Villa Accommodation Unit at Quakers Hill. The new premises are able to accommodate a maximum of seven teenagers. The implication of this expansion of service was that additional resources were required. A criterion for funding under CAP is that the auspicing organisation gives an undertaking that they will be able to manage the service without any expectation of recurrent funding from the Government.

    Soon after the relocation of this project to Catherine Villa, the service of the Good Shepherd Sisters was withdrawn. As an interim measure, the Parramatta Diocese agreed to fund the additional resources required to cater for an overnight worker and a weekend worker. The Parramatta Diocese maintains that their emergency relief funds will run out at the end of June 1996 and they will be unable to continue the funding of the two positions.

    (7) The Government has provided growth funds of $2.5 million to the recurrent base of the Community Services Grants Program. A Ministerial Advisory Committee has been established, with representatives from the community sector, to work closely with the Department of Community Services in advising on the future development of the CSGP. The committee provided advice on a broad framework for the allocation of the growth funds.

    CSGP projects across the State, including the Parramatta Diocese Ministry to Solo Parents and their Families, received an increase of 4.75% backdated to 1 July 1995 and a Consumer Price Index funding increase of 1.9% backdated to 1 January 1996, making a combined increase of 6.6% to CSGP services from 1 January 1996.

    1996 will see an exciting process of reform within the CSGP. Through the development of a strategic and consultative framework, priority is being given to improving planning and practice, developing a balanced range of flexible services at the local level and improving the linkages between programs and services. The CSGP Advisory Committee is fully supportive of the reform strategy and broad-based consultation will take place as part of the reform process. Any future growth in the CSGP will occur in the context of this reform strategy.

    The Department is moving away from submission-based funding to a more co-ordinated approach based on analysis of need in each area. This enables the Department to more accurately target funds to the greatest need and ensures a more equitable distribution of resources. Funding allocations are based on objective rather than subjective criteria. Furthermore, needs-based planning meets the Government’s commitment to access and equity more successfully than the submission-based model.

    I have requested that senior departmental officers meet with representatives of the Ministry to Solo Parents and their Families to examine the resource crisis the service is currently facing.


    *44 DISABILITY SERVICES - LAWN BOWLS CLUB - Mrs Forsythe asked the Minister for Community Services, Minister for Aged Services, and Minister for Disability Services -

    (1) Have at least six people in wheelchairs been denied permission to join lawn bowls clubs on Sydney’s North Shore in recent months?

    (2) Are the clubs acting illegally in denying these people the right to play because they are people with a disability?

    (3) Will the Minister investigate the circumstances surrounding these cases and if necessary write to every lawn bowls club in New South Wales advising them of the rights of people with disability to play sport?

    Answer -

    (1) I am unaware of any specific complaints on this subject. If the honourable member can provide details, I can initiate appropriate action. This issue may involve reference to the Anti-Discrimination Board, which lies within the responsibilities of my ministerial colleague the Attorney General.

    (2) If the clubs concerned are denying access to facilities to people with a disability on the grounds of their disability, or if the complainants believe this to be the reason, then the clubs may be in breach of the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 and the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Such breaches may be referred to the Anti-Discrimination Board or the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, respectively.

    (3) If the honourable member is prepared to provide me with the details of these grievances, I will arrange for the appropriate action to be taken.


    *45 COMMUNITY SERVICES - GROUP HOMES - SAFETY - Mrs Forsythe asked the Minister for Community Services, Minister for Aged Services, and Minister for Disability Services -

    (1) How many group homes are under the control of the Department of Community Services?

    (2) Do all group homes have fire extinguishers?

    (3) Do all have smoke detectors?

    (4) Are all detectors and extinguishers checked regularly?

    (5) Are you satisfied that all group homes meet the current fire standards?

    (6) (a) Have any group homes been required to upgrade their safety standards in the past year?

    (b) If so, where are they located?
    Answer -

    (1) 265 including respite and day program houses.

    (2) and (3) Fire extinguishers and smoke detectors are standard items within all departmental group homes.

    (4) The routine checking of smoke detectors and extinguishers is part of house managers’ regular duties as is emergency procedure training for residents.

    (5) and (6) There are no specific planning codes for fire standards for group homes, as group homes are considered to be normal residential establishments. The provision of detectors and extinguishers is a standard that the Department implements of its own accord to provide greater security for its clients.


    *46 DISABILITY SERVICES - BOARDING HOUSES - SAFETY - Mrs Forsythe asked the Minister for Community Services, Minister for Aged Services, and Minister for Disability Services -

    (1) How many private boarding houses are licensed by the Department of Disability Services?

    (2) Are all such houses required to have fire extinguishers?

    (3) (a) Do all have smoke detectors?

    (b) If so, do licensing officers check these detectors?

    (c) If so, how many were checked:

    (i) in the last month;

    (ii) in the past 2-3 months;

    (iii) in the past 3-6 months;

    (iv) in the past 6-12 months;

    (v) longer than 12 months?

    (4) Have any private boarding houses been refused a licence because of inadequate fire safety precautions in the past 12 months?

    (5) (a) Have any private boarding homes been required to upgrade their fire safety standards in the past year?

    (b) If so, where are they located?

    Answer -

    (1) There are currently 165 premises in New South Wales that are licensed under the Youth and Community Services Act 1973 to operate as residential centres for people with disabilities.

    (2) The responsibility for monitoring appropriate fire safety systems within such services rests primarily with the relevant local government authority. However, it is a condition of all licences issued under the Youth and Community Services Act 1973 that all local government requirements are met.

    Fire extinguishers may be required depending upon the configuration of the building and the nature of the service offered there.

    Licensing officers will continue to work closely with representatives from local councils to ensure the provision and maintenance of adequate fire safety measures.
    (3) (a) Similar to the situation with fire extinguishers, smoke detectors may be required depending on the configuration of the building and the nature of the service offered there. Therefore, the prime responsibility for enforcing requirements for smoke detectors lies with local government authorities.

    The Ageing and Disability Department has recently contacted all local government authorities in New South Wales requesting details of the compliance of all licensed premises with respect to fire safety. When this information is received, the Ageing and Disability Department will work with all local government authorities and licensees to address any outstanding issues.

    (b) Licensing officers do not assess the suitability or operation of fire or smoke detectors, but rely on the local government authorities to monitor the installation and functioning of these devices. However, where it is noticed by a licensing officer or brought to the officer’s attention that fire detection devices are not installed or may not be functioning, the officer immediately brings this issue to the attention of the licensee and the local government authority.

    (c) Officers from the Ageing and Disability Department inspect all licensed premises at least every 4 to 6 weeks. Therefore, the issues regarding fire safety are regularly reviewed in all licensed premises. Additionally, a full review of the operation of each licensed premises is undertaken annually. This review includes a detailed examination of compliance with all local government requirements, including fire safety.

    (4) One licence has been refused on the issue of fire safety in the last 12 months. Additionally, upgrading work on fire safety requirements has been required before the granting of other licences.

    (5) (a) In the last year, local government authorities have required nine licensed premises to upgrade their fire safety measures.

    (b) Of the nine premises required to upgrade fire safety, two were located in the Marrickville local government area and one in each of Albury, Rockdale, Burwood, Blue Mountains, Newcastle, Inverell and Gosford local government areas.


    15 MAY 1996

    (Paper No. 10)

    *47 REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT - LOCAL GOVERNMENT CAPITAL ASSISTANCE GRANTS - Mr Jobling asked the Attorney General, and Minister for Industrial Relations representing the Minister for Local Government -

    What amount of funding under the Local Government Capital Assistance Grants for 1996 was allocated to the following electorates:

    (1) Kogarah?

    (2) Marrickville?

    (3) Ashfield?

    (4) Strathfield?

    (5) Lakemba?

    Answer -

    No funding was allocated for capital grants and advances under the Capital Program of the Department of Local Government’s Budget for 1995/96.
    *48 TRANSPORT - BURWOOD, CONCORD AND STRATHFIELD - RAILWAY STATIONS - Mr Jobling asked the Treasurer, Minister for Energy, Minister for State and Regional Development, Minister Assisting the Premier, and Vice-President of the Executive Council representing the Minister for Transport, and Minister for Tourism -

    In relation to:

    (1) Burwood;

    (2) Concord; and

    (3) Strathfield Railway Stations:

    (a) How many permanent staff are assigned to each station?

    (b) What are their titles?

    (c) How many casual staff are there?

    (d) How many passengers use the station on weekdays between 5.00 a.m. and 6.00 a.m.?

    (e) How many passengers use the station on weekdays between 9.00 a.m. and 10.00 p.m.?

    (f) How many security staff are stationed there?

    (g) (i) Does State Rail plan a new staff roster at these stations?

    (ii) If so, what is the purpose of introducing the proposed roster?

    (iii) Have staff agreed to the proposed roster?

    (h) (i) Are capital works planned for these stations?

    (ii) If so, what are they?

    (iii) What is the cost?

    (i) How much would it cost to install escalators at these railway stations?

    Answer -

    Burwood Railway Station

    (1) (a) 18.

    (b) Station Master Class 2, Assistant Station Master Class 2, Station Assistant Class 1, Station Assistant Class 2, Clerk Grade 2, Clerk Grade 3.

    (c) Nil.

    (d) Passenger counts not available for this time.

    (e) An average of 62.

    (f) Nil. However, there are random police patrols.

    (g) (i) No.

    (ii) Not applicable.

    (iii) Not applicable.

    (h) (i) No.

    (ii) Not applicable.

    (iii) Not applicable.

    (i) $2 million (four escalators would be required).

    Concord Railway Station

    (2) (a) 2.

    (b) Assistant Station Master, Station Master.

    (c) Nil.

    (d) An average of 3.

    (e) An average of 5.

    (f) Nil. Roving patrols only.

    (g) (i) No.

    (ii) Not applicable.

    (iii) Not applicable.

    (h) (i) No.

    (ii) Not applicable.

    (iii) Not applicable.

    (i) $1 million.

    Strathfield Railway Station

    (3) (a) 58.

    (b) Station Master Special Class, Assistant Station Master, Head Station Assistant, Leading Station Assistant, Station Assistant Class 1, Station Assistant Class 2, Clerk Grade 3, Clerk Grade 2, Clerk Grade 1.

    (c) Nil.

    (d) Passenger counts not available for this time.

    (e) An average of 350.

    (f) Nil. However, there are random police patrols.

    (g) (i) No.

    (ii) Not applicable.

    (iii) Not applicable.

    (h) (i) Works in progress.

    (ii) Refurbishment of walls, floors, ramps, painting and provision of easy access facilities. Platform reconstruction. Upgrade booking office.

    (iii) $9,805,000.

    (i) There is insufficient space for escalators. However, five lifts have been installed and ramps have been provided to improve access to the station.


    *49 LOCAL GOVERNMENT - JILLABY - SWIMMING POOL FENCE - Dr Pezzutti asked the Attorney General, and Minister for Industrial Relations representing the Minister for Local Government -

    (1) (a) Was there a recent drowning death of a 2½-year-old in the family’s backyard swimming pool at Jillaby?

    (b) If so, did the pool in question have a Wyong Council approved pool fence?

    (2) (a) Are adequate safety standards in place to guard against unsuitable pool fences being erected and approved by local councils?

    (b) If not, will adequate safety standards be put in place?

    (3) Will this matter be throughly investigated?

    Answer -

    The question is similar to the Question Without Notice asked by the honourable member in June 1995 which I answered in the Legislative Council on 12 October 1995. The answer appeared on page 1633 of Hansard.

    Enquiries made by the Department of Local Government of the Gosford Coroner’s Court, Wyong Shire Council and the Royal Life Saving Society Australia, New South Wales Branch, indicate that there is no record of a further drowning incident occurring at Jillaby since the incident addressed in my earlier answer. Accordingly, there are no changes to my earlier answer regarding the drowning incident.

    However, the item regarding the proposed Conference on Drownings in the 0-5 Age Group which was to be hosted by the Royal Life Saving Society Australia, New South Wales Branch, on Friday 29 September 1995 at the Parkroyal, Darling Harbour, was cancelled due to the lack of support.

    As Dr Pezzutti would be aware, swimming pool fencing has been an emotive issue amongst pool owners since before comprehensive legislation was introduced in 1990. In recognition of the complexity of the issues, the 1992 Act established a Pool Fencing Advisory Committee to advise the Minister for Local Government on possible improvements to the swimming pools legislation.

    The committee found that there was no convincing statistical evidence that isolation fencing as maintained and used is safer than pools without isolation fencing. The committee agreed that the data collection on drownings and near-drownings would need to be upgraded in order to provide more accurate details on which to base any further recommendations in respect of the current legislation.

    The NSW Government is committed to the reduction of drownings and aquatic-related accidents. The Deputy Premier and Minister for Health on 13 February 1996 released new data in the December 1995 edition of the Public Health Bulletin revealing the State’s black spots for backyard drownings and near-drownings of toddlers.

    In conjunction with the release of the data, the Deputy Premier announced the establishment of a Drowning and Near-Drowning Register as an essential component to reduce toddler drownings and near-drowning incidents in private swimming pools. The register will enable a comprehensive surveillance of incidents in private pools to be carried out and will also provide a means to:

    * monitor trends in the incidence and outcome of drownings and near-drownings;
    * improve understanding of the problem and the circumstances surrounding events to initiate appropriate prevention strategies;
    * evaluate prevention strategies;
    * identify at risk populations by age, sex and ethnicity.

    The key objective of the register is to provide information to assess the affects of the Swimming Pools Act 1992 and to identify factors causing drownings and near-drowning incidents. In the first instance, a detailed investigation will be undertaken to determine the causes of pool drowning and near-drowning of children in New South Wales. The study will examine:

    * parental factors (including supervision);
    * development and other characteristics of the child involved; and
    * environmental factors (including effectiveness and compliance with the current legislation and the role of fencing).

    The register will also enable cost-benefit analysis to be performed with the present and future strategies to reduce the drowning and near-drowning of children in pools.

    The register has been developed in response to a working group with representatives from the Department of Health, local councils, Local Government and Shires Associations, Royal Life Saving Society of Australia (NSW Branch), NSW Police Service Coroner’s Support Section and the Department of Local Government.

    The Royal Life Saving Society (the group responsible for data collection) has offered to maintain the register, on behalf of the Government, and it is envisaged that the register will be in operation from 1 July 1996. A funding commitment by the Government over the next 3 years has been given to the society.

    To assist in the data collection, the NSW Health Department’s Emergency Department Information System will be used to both identify cases of near-drowning and prompt the user to notify the relevant authorities responsible for investigating the circumstances of the near-drowning. Where cases have been identified, it is proposed that the relevant local council general manager will be provided with the patient’s name, patient’s address and the address of the location of the incident. The Royal Life Saving Society will also be notified of the local council undertaking an inspection of the pool to assess compliance with the Act.

    It is proposed that a standard inspection will be carried out by the delegated council officer of the premises where the immersion occurred within 48 hours of the incident taking place. The working group is in the process of developing a standard check list for the inspection and it is anticipated that it will be shortly available to councils together with other details. A copy of the de-identified data will be transferred to the society for entry and collation into the register.

    The Department of Health has recently written to all councils in New South Wales seeking additional information regarding the number of new and existing pools in each area, percentage of pools that comply with the Swimming Pools Act 1992 and the number of inspections carried out in the last 12 months. This information will be included in the Drowning and Near-Drowning Register.

    The NSW Police Service, Coroner’s Section, in consultation with the Department of Local Government, has prepared a “Private Pool Drowning Questionnaire” to be completed by the attending police officer when inquiring into the circumstances of a drowning of a young child. The questionnaire was introduced by the NSW Police Service on 12 February 1996.

    The completed questionnaire will be forwarded to the State Coroner and will bring uniformity to the presentation of material and is to be additional to the usual Coroner’s report and brief of evidence. The questionnaire will also be forwarded for information and dissemination to the Department of Local Government, Department of Health and the Royal Life Saving Society for inclusion into the register.

    The establishment of the register may pose some minor administrative and other difficulties on councils having regard to the other calls on their resources. However, the action taken by the Government is a positive step forward to improve understanding of the incidence and outcome of drowning and near-drownings in order to initiate appropriate prevention strategies.


    *50 ENVIRONMENT - SHEDS - YURAYGIR NATIONAL PARK - Mr Jones asked the Attorney General, and Minister for Industrial Relations representing the Minister for the Environment -

    (1) (a) Have sheds been constructed in Yuraygir National Park?

    (b) If so, when were the sheds built?

    (2) (a) Did the National Parks and Wildlife Service give approval for the construction of these sheds?

    (b) If not, are the structures illegal?

    (3) (a) Has legal action been taken against the builders and occupiers of the sheds?

    (b) If no, why not?

    Answer -

    (1) (a) An unlicensed and unauthorised shed for use in a commercial oyster operation has been constructed on the north bank of the Sandon River, south of Brooms Head.

    (b) The oyster shed was constructed in 1989.

    (2) (a) No.

    (b) No.

    (3) (a) Following a recent joint inspection of the oyster site by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and NSW Fisheries officers, the Service has prepared a report for the removal of the oyster shed and associated materials. This includes recovery of costs of removal and rehabilitation of the site.

    (b) Over a number of years the NPWS has been endeavouring to negotiate for the removal of the shed and associated materials. The matter is currently under consideration by the Service and its legal advisers.


    *51 MINERAL RESOURCES - COPPER ORE - NORTH PARKES MINE - Mr Jones asked the Minister for Community Services, Minister for Aged Services, and Minister for Disability Services representing the Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for Fisheries -

    (1) (a) Did the first shipment of copper ore from North Parkes mine to Germany have excessive levels of contamination elements in the ore body?

    (b) If so, what were the contamination elements?

    (2) (a) Have complaints been received by a family at a property near North Parkes mine regarding levels of mercury in their blood?

    (b) If so, by whom were the complaints received?

    (3) Have dead cattle on this family’s property been found to have raised fluorine levels?

    (4) Will an investigation be made into the link between North Parkes mine and contamination of nearby residents and animals?

    Answer -

    (1) (a) The copper concentrate beneficiated from the copper ore body at North Parkes and shipped to Germany did not contain levels of contaminating elements which incurred any smelter penalty. Levels of principal contaminating elements in the concentrate, lead and mercury, were less than 0.1% and 1 part per million respectively.

    (b) Not applicable.

    (2) (a) None have come to my or to the Department of Mineral Resources’ attention.

    (b) Not applicable.

    (3) Yes.

    (4) A full investigation has been launched by the Department of Agriculture. Preliminary results have ruled out any link between cattle mortality and operations at the North Parkes mine. The most likely cause of the cattle deaths is an excessive amount of the element fluorine in supplementary feed given to stock during the drought. The work of the Department of Agriculture has been referred to an independent expert on toxicology for review.


    22 MAY 1996

    (Paper No. 13)

    *58 CORRECTIVE SERVICES - IMPRISONMENT - SOLE CARER OF A CHILD - Mr Corbett asked the Attorney General, and Minister for Industrial Relations representing the Minister for Corrective Services, Minister for Emergency Services, and Minister Assisting the Minister for the Arts -

    (a) Are there alternatives to imprisonment when the sentenced person is the sole carer of a child?

    (b) If so, what are they?

    Answer -

    (a) Convicted persons are sentenced by the courts. Alternatives to full-time imprisonment apply equally to all convicted persons.

    (b) The alternatives to full-time imprisonment include community service orders and periodic detention. The mother of a young child or young children who has been sentenced to full-time imprisonment may apply for release under section 29 (2) of the Prisons Act 1952 for the purpose of serving her sentence with her child or children in an appropriate environment determined by the Commissioner of Corrective Services. The period covered by such release would be specified in the order.







    John Evans
    Clerk of the Parliaments
















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    Authorised by the Parliament of New South Wales