Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 7 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 2050..
This will ensure that everyone—our sons and our daughters, our fathers and our brothers and our uncles—who works in the construction industry arrives home safe and sound. I want to thank Mr Gentleman for bringing on this motion today, and I feel confident in saying to the Assembly that I will do all I can as Minister for Education and Training to improve the safety of our workplaces.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (4.01): To close the debate, I thank all of the members here today for their contributions: Ms Berry for her passionate speech on people who have lost their lives at work and her emphasis on procurement as a priority; Dr Bourke for the discussion on the great work that CIT Bruce are doing in training on workplace safety and becoming a national leader in that area; Ms Porter on the importance of workplace safety for nurses and volunteers such as Greening Australia and Landcare; Minister Corbell, who reiterated the work of the government and its response to the Getting home safely report; Ms Burch for her family concerns on safety in the workplace and, of course, workplace safety training competencies; and Mr Rattenbury for his support through the amendments, and I support his concerns on sham contracting and psychosocial hazards.
I will make some further comments, though, on Mr Seselja's contribution. I feel Mr Seselja rejects my impetus in my motion—that is, it is the labour movement that has been at the forefront of concerns for workplace safety. I put the challenge out there for him to counter my claims, but, instead, he moved to discuss workplace bullying in the construction industry.
He went on to say that the Australian Building and Construction Commission needs to come back—it may take a change of government to do it, but it needs to come back. So I thought I had best have a look at what the ACTU says about the ABCC.
While its brief is to oversee adherence to industrial law, the ABCC conspicuously fails to investigate or prosecute employers underpaying workers or breaching safety regulations.
Rather, it targets individual workers involved in union or collective activity not strictly related to EBA negotiations.
Even if a worker is killed on site, his colleagues must be able to prove they had a reasonable concern about an imminent risk to themselves to legally stop work and assess the safety situation.
Passers-by can also be interrogated by the ABCC for witnessing activities on a building site.
The ABCC has the power to seek fines against individual workers of up to $22,000 and to gag interviewees. Anyone who refuses to cooperate fully faces a potential 6 month jail term.
More than 92 construction workers have been secretly interrogated by the ABCC.
They go on to tell the story of Ark Tribe: