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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 October 2010) . . Page.. 5021 ..

MS GALLAGHER: I disagree with the question. We are providing a higher level of government services in every single area of government service delivery. There has been an increase of over 180 new hospital beds into the hospital system after a very significant decline. We have increased our elective surgery output by 2½ thousand operations a year. It is not fair to say that government is providing less services to people And when you have a look at our taxation effort and our revenue raising effort, you will see that over the last 10 years, on a per capita measure, the increase in taxation across the ACT has been very, very light—about 75c a day. In terms of the increase in services that we have provided to the community over the last 10 years, when you look at what your mob did in the commonwealth when they were in power—(Time expired.)

Industrial relations—work safety reform

MS BRESNAN: My question is to the Minister for Industrial Relations and is in regard to the national harmonisation of occupational health and safety laws. Minister, the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions website cites a decision of the UK Court of Appeal which says that the right to private prosecution “remains a valuable constitutional safeguard against inertia or partiality on the part of the authority”. Given that the national harmonisation OH&S laws propose to erode the right to private prosecution for breaches of OH&S legislation, does the ACT government agree to this erosion? If yes, why does the government agree?

MS GALLAGHER: The ACT has the capacity, through access to common law, for third-party prosecutions. We have fought the argument around the table. We have made the decision to be part of a national scheme. I do not think that there have actually been any third-party prosecutions here in the ACT, even though the right has existed for some time. We fought this fight round the table; we did not win the support of our colleagues. We do believe that a national OH&S system—and I presume those opposite believe in it too—is the right way forward for providing consistency and balancing the rights of workers with the needs of employers for certainty and stability. Our union colleagues know that we fought that fight. We lost it, but our signature on that deal holds firm. And there is an avenue through common law to access private prosecutions. So there is another avenue for that and we were not successful with prosecuting the argument amongst our colleagues.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Bresnan, a supplementary?

MS BRESNAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, given that you have claimed that there may be some provisions to privately prosecute under common law, can the government guarantee that unions and individuals will have the same ability to pursue breaches of OH&S law after harmonisation?

MS GALLAGHER: In terms of third-party prosecutions there is that existing capacity. As far as I am aware, we have not had any third-party prosecutions in the history of the ACT.

MS HUNTER: A supplementary?

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