Page 3295 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 October 2022

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As one example, in a letter to me dated 30 June 2020, the Chief Minister assured me that the odour control units in west Macgregor were “currently operating within desired parameters” and that Icon Water had no verified data of an odour problem. In contrast, a few months earlier, one west Macgregor mum assured me that the smell from the odour control unit near her house was so bad on some days that she could not convince her children to play outdoors. I speak up today on behalf of residents in Latham, Florey and Evatt, who may be exposed to bad smells from these new odour control units, as has happened in west Macgregor.

Residents in west Macgregor continue to feel that the ACT government has not taken their complaints about bad smells seriously. As a local member, I will be monitoring any impacts that the future operation of the four new odour control units may have on nearby residents, and I will expect the government to be responsive to any concerns that they may have.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Office of the Work Health and Safety Commissioner—Part 1.19.

MR COCKS (Murrumbidgee) (11.53): I wish to speak briefly to workplace safety at this point, because workplace safety deserves to be taken seriously. One of my very early memories as a child was sitting in the living room of a family friend whose life had been tragically taken on a worksite. Seeing the pain that a family goes through when they lose a loved one unexpectedly, through no fault of their own, through a workplace safety incident, is no joke. The ripples that it has through a community are astounding. And it is not something that you forget in a hurry.

That is why Canberra deserves to have a workplace safety system that not only puts the stated intent of workers’ safety at its heart but delivers on that. No worker deserves to be injured at work. No family deserves to be deprived of a loved one through no fault of their own. Workers and their families deserve a system that works—and works with businesses to ensure that everyone comes home safe.

Sadly, there are questions at the moment as to how well our system in Canberra is working. Just recently we have seen—and the minister has spoken to it—another significant workplace concern around a construction site and landslips. It is not the first one recently, which means it cannot have taken the government by surprise. There were warnings that this could happen, but, from the discussion that I heard this week, the biggest thing the government has done is write letters. The government wrote letters to developers.

The fact that those letters may not have had their intended impact may speak to the culture of workplace safety that I am hearing about from business owners and workers. They tell me that the culture in the ACT’s workplace safety organisation is adversarial and unproductive. It puts waving a big stick ahead of preventing problems. If a workplace safety system is going to work well in the ACT, it needs to work in partnership with businesses, not persistently leave them living in fear. If a workplace safety system here in the ACT is going to work, we have to have good training and we have to have effective measures that bring everyone along.

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