Page 2110 - Week 07 - Thursday, 29 June 2023

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Amendment Bill 2022. The bill presents an important opportunity for the government to place on the record and reconfirm our commitment to safety for all Canberra workers. The ACT’s legislative framework for work health and safety is guided by the fundamental principle that a consistent standard be applied across all workplaces. All workers should be able to expect that their health and safety is being looked after when at work. This is what our community, workers and good employers expect.

Work health and safety is everyone’s responsibility, at all levels. This means government, employers and workers actively participating in securing a healthy and safe workplace. Our Work Health and Safety Council, made up of representatives of government, employer and employee interests, has expressed similar views. In August 2022 they noted that the principles of the WHS laws apply to all persons conducting a business or undertaking to comply with their duties, and that the territory acting as a model PCBU in securing work health and safety for its workers is important. Being a model PCBU signals a transparent and accountable government to the Canberra community.

In fact, in 2022 a healthy and safe working environment was declared to be a fundamental right by the International Labour Organization member states, including Australia, furthering Australia’s commitment to healthy and safe working environments. In doing so, the ILO also elevated the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention 2006, No 187, to fundamental status, triggering work at the national level in Australia to consider progressing its ratification. It signals our commitment that everyone is responsible for health and safety at work. Everyone has the right to expect that their health and safety will be protected at work. Health and safety risks must, where possible, be eliminated or minimised as far as is reasonably practical.

Over the last few years, we have seen a justified focus on the prevalence of workplace risks, especially psychosocial hazards such as sexual harassment and bullying. It is important to maintain accountability in all workplaces to ensure that safety risks are appropriately controlled, including in parliamentary workplaces. This bill operates to clarify and reconfirm that members of this place have a duty to uphold health and safety in the Assembly—and this Assembly, of course, is a workplace. Where any doubt may arise in relation to the consistent application of safety standards, it is our responsibility, as an Assembly, to remove this doubt that the Work Health and Safety Act applies. As Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, having portfolio responsibility for workplace safety, I support the amendment bill.

MR BRADDOCK (Yerrabi) (11.29): Every worker has a right to be safe at work. There has been no disagreement with that point in this place. No ACT workplace, including our own, is above the obligations set out in the act. These principles are fundamental, and we, as representatives and legislators, need to hold ourselves to the highest standard in this regard. I would like to applaud Madam Speaker for repeatedly making this point in this chamber and in front of the committee. Assertions to the contrary are unfounded and unhelpful.

It is also possible for two things to be true at the same time. The parliamentary privileges and immunities of this place are also important to ensuring the ongoing effective role of the legislature. I welcome the statement that this bill does not


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