Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 2 Hansard (16 February) . .
Mr Barr: I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.
Supplementary answers to questions without notice
Trade unions—royal commission
MR GENTLEMAN: I was asked a question by Mr Coe in regard to buildings in Canberra that may have been issued certificates of occupancy and are at risk of requiring residents to permanently vacate them due to serious structural issues. I can advise that my directorate has advised that Access Canberra is not aware of any cases of buildings which are at risk of requiring residents to suddenly vacate them due to serious structural issues.
Mr Wall asked a question in regard to my directorate providing information or evidence to the royal commission. I can advise that some documents from WorkSafe ACT were provided in response to requests from the royal commission. No other evidence or information was provided by officials in relation to my industrial relations portfolio.
Today Mr Wall asked a question in regard to a Woden construction site and a WorkSafe issue. Mr McCabe has provided me with some information. WorkSafe ACT attended a building site at Woden controlled by Milin Bros to assist with a dispute concerning right of entry. WorkSafe received the request to attend from a CFMEU organiser who was at the site in question. A concrete pour was underway. Milin Bros denied entry to three CFMEU representatives asserting that they had not provided their full names as required by the WHS Act. Both the employer and the union have provided opposing claims regarding the facts of the matter. WorkSafe is investigating the matter to determine whether Milin Bros acted lawfully in denying entry to the CFMEU under the WHS Act. The investigation into the matter has not concluded at this stage.
As with all such matters, if either party is found to have breached their legislative obligations, WorkSafe would then need to determine what enforcement action, if any, was appropriate given the circumstances of the particular case. Enforcement action can, for example, range from education through to the issuing of formal notices through to prosecution. Although the union official was denied entry by the employer, two WorkSafe inspectors conducted a workplace inspection and examined the two areas of concern identified by the union officials. WorkSafe found no safety breaches in respect of one of the two matters—an amenities issue—and a minor breach in terms of the second matter—an access and egress issue. The employer undertook to rectify the issue. A few other minor issues were also identified.
It should be noted that the question of how serious any alleged breaches may be is not relevant to the right of entry provisions in the WHS Act. These provisions mirror those in harmonised WHS legislation developed by the national safety body, Safe Work Australia, and adopted in several states and territories. The WHS Act imposes no threshold for the seriousness of the suspected safety breaches; simply that the
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