Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 2 Hansard (22 February) . . Page.. 649..
psychosocial disease. By stipulating three, or for that matter any number, the bill suggests that this will solve the problem. It will not.
What is important is that there are policies, programs, information and resources available to employers and workers to quickly identify bullying issues and deal with them at the workplace. It is not enough to simply call a WorkSafe inspector in. Employers and workers must work together to resolve the issue.
We need to be proactive in dealing with this issue. We need to ensure that there is enough information and guidance available on how to deal with bullying. We need to ensure that employers and workers understand what bullying is and what it is not. The ACT government is currently doing this. We need to instil in all parties the need for early intervention to reduce the likelihood of matters escalating out of hand.
Unfortunately, far too often once inspectors are involved it is at the point where enforcement action is required and investigations needed, rather than preventing the incident in the first place. The government sees the role of the Work Safety Council as being pivotal in proactively addressing the issue of bullying in the workplace. The council is tripartite. It includes employee and employer organisations that have access to a wide range of business and industry in the territory.
It is through the council and the ACT Work Safety Commissioner that action can be taken to highlight the issue of workplace bullying and to consider and promote proactive strategies to deal with this. I understand that the council has already, of its own volition, agreed to consider appropriate and effective mechanisms to address workplace bullying at its next meeting.
I commend the council for actively addressing this very challenging issue and I look forward to receiving the council's advice. I will deal with the amendments during detail debate on the bill.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.19): This bill was coined in my office today a Clayton's bill. It is a bill you have when you do not need to have a bill or you are not having a bill. This is legislation for the sake of legislation. Like Dr Bourke, we will be supporting this bill to be progressed to the detail stage so that it can be fixed up. That is where it will stop. We, the Canberra Liberals, will oppose all of the substantive elements of the present bill during the detail debate with the exception of the amendment that would increase the role of the Work Safety Council by specifically giving them a remit in the area of bullying.
There is no doubt that the Work Safety Council already has that remit but the Canberra Liberals have no problem in highlighting it because we believe that bullying is an important issue. The psychosocial issues that are associated with bullying need to addressed. It is acceptable that these functions be taken on specifically by the Work Safety Council.
In bringing forward this legislation today, it is catch-up by the Greens. The Canberra Liberals, amongst other people, have spent a lot of time highlighting the culture of bullying in the ACT government. We have heard about the 10-year war in obstetrics.