Page 3296 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 October 2022
One of the discussions we had in estimates was around the range of stakeholders that are involved in workplace safety during any WorkSafe investigation. We heard that the only external stakeholder that gets to come along is the union. The unions are vital stakeholders in this area—workplace safety can and must be one of their chief concerns—but it speaks to the distrust of the system that businesses now have, that they feel that that is setting the process up to fail.
When they get a letter, do they assume that it is well intentioned? I am afraid they do not. When a WorkSafe inspector comes by, they tell me that it feels like a raid, not a constructive dialogue. They feel that they are always pitched as the bad guy. If we are going to have a system that makes sure people are coming home—a system that makes sure people are not being injured in the workplace—it needs to be productive and it needs to be based on mutual objectives. I cannot think of any employer who wants to see their workers injured—I cannot think of any—but they perpetually feel that they are set up as the bad guy and that they carry all of the risk. That is not good enough.
We need to get to a system where WorkSafe ACT and the government are speaking with businesses and understanding what the issues are that they face. There was a great example of this just recently in the Work Health and Safety Amendment Regulation 2022 (No 1). This regulation, introduced in July 2022, obviously had issues, given the requirement which WorkSafe ACT felt had to be introduced to apply a three-month exemption period for the part of the regulation regarding silica dust. During the three-month exemption, the building industry was left completely in the dark as to what it might be required to do and when it might come into effect. Even as recently as this weekend, they were still telling me that they did not know what would happen when the exemption was due to end, on Monday, 17 October.
The industry has been given a further two-week transition period, but many of the businesses I have spoken to are still confused as to how they will adhere to the new regulations. Silicon dust is a really important issue. It has major health impacts, and we have to have practical measures that work. The fact that introducing water is seen as the only solution here actually introduces a whole set of new risks that have not been adequately considered. Water does not work very well with electricity, for example. The industry will also require training and support to implement the new regulation. It is not good enough that the only organisation that this government wants to allow to produce training is, strangely enough, owned by the CFMEU.
Industry, businesses and workers have serious questions around how workplace safety works here in the ACT. It is not a system that is designed to get the best outcomes yet. It can be, but we have to get all sides working together to make sure people are coming home safely.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
ACT Gambling and Racing Commission—Part 1.20.
MR PARTON (Brindabella) (12.01): I want to start by saying that in the ACT we should be extremely proud of the way that we regulate gambling, and that so much of this gets down to compliance and to the Gambling and Racing Commission. It also