Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 9 Hansard (27 September) . . Page.. 2834..
MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (5.58): In the time that remains I will quickly thank Dr Foskey for her support in opposing Mr Mulcahy's amendments and signal that the government will not be supporting Mr Mulcahy's amendments either.
Mr Speaker, I just want to make a couple of other comments in relation to some issues that the scrutiny of bills committee raised. The committee did particularly question whether the current penalties are proportionate to the offences. In particular, the committee asked whether, in the situation of the worst case where a person, through their negligence, exposes another person to a substantial risk of harm, the imposition of a fine of 1,500 penalty units and imprisonment for a maximum term of five years would be justified. My answer to that question is simply yes.
As mentioned earlier, the concept of criminal negligence is very different from civil negligence. It is not the case that employers would be charged with criminal negligence or imprisoned simply because they could be successfully sued for negligence. A court must be satisfied that a person's act or omission merits criminal punishment. The defendant's conduct must involve a great falling short of the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the circumstances and there must be a high risk that the person would be exposed to serious harm because of the defendant's acts or omissions.
Mr Speaker, I would also like to add that the offences in question relate to exposing people to or causing serious harm. Serious harm is just that—it is serious harm; it is not mere exposure to a risk or hazard. Serious harm is defined in the Criminal Code to mean any harm that endangers, or is likely to endanger, human life or any harm that is, or is likely to be, significant and longstanding. So in light of this, I am satisfied and the government is satisfied that the penalties in the legislation are justified. It is worth noting that it is the Labor Party that maintains a strong commitment to improving work safety in the territory. The Labor Party is dedicated to building a robust and modern body of legislation that is consistent with the principles of natural justice and human rights.
The government believes that the provisions in this bill are further testament to our commitment to build a robust and modern body of work safety legislation. I commend the bill to the Assembly. I welcome the support of Dr Foskey, and I indicate again that the government will be opposing Mr Mulcahy's amendments.
At 6.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for the next sitting. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly was put.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (6.00): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I want to express my solidarity with the monks and the citizens of Burma who were out in the streets. I do