Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 March 2010) . . Page.. 878 ..
MR STANHOPE: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. I will have to take that question on notice, which I am happy to do, and I will provide that information for the Leader of the Opposition.
MS LE COUTEUR: Supplementary question, Mr Speaker?
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Le Couteur.
MS LE COUTEUR: Minister, what responsibilities does the government retain for safety, in particular, and payment of subcontractors and workers during government work once a principal contractor is hired?
MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister, did you hear that?
MR STANHOPE: Yes, but I do not fully understand. Actually, it might be of assistance if Ms Le Couteur repeated the question.
MS LE COUTEUR: I will repeat it: what responsibilities does the government retain for the safety and payment of subcontractors and workers doing government work once a principal contractor has been hired?
MR STANHOPE: In relation to safety, I would have to take advice on the detail of issues around site safety and occupational health and safety and the responsibility of a contractor for site safety. But, once again, the primary responsibility, I am sure, Ms Le Couteur, falls on the contractor, the person who actually subcontracts, and the person engaged. But I am more than happy to get the technical details around responsibility for occupational health and safety issues, for instance, on a building site, and the degree to which the government as the hirer of services might ultimately be held responsible.
There is, of course—and I think it perhaps goes to the heart of the concern reflected in the questions asked on this matter—a legal obligation. There is always on government a moral obligation, which we accept. We accept our moral obligation by insisting on best practice in relation to any project that we are involved in in any way. I have no reason to believe that at any stage of the issue with Akron the government’s role and behaviour at any stage reflected anything other than best practice.
So, in relation to safety, I will take advice, Ms Le Couteur, on the technical and legal aspects of occupational health and safety, but I think, as always, there will be a legal obligation and a moral obligation—and we accept both in relation to safety. In relation to payment, of course we have an interest, and we have reflected that interest over and above perhaps what we would accept in other contracts that we are involved in by insisting on statutory declarations on these projects. That was a reflection of some concern around the nexus. Once again, there is the other issue of what happens with the defaulting company, and the law determines that.
MR COE: My question is to the Treasurer. I refer to a statement by you, reported in the PSnews published online on 9 March: