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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 September 2011) . . Page.. 4037 ..


This is largely technical due to the drafting system bequeathed to us by the commonwealth under the national harmonised model work health and safety laws.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Part 7 (including clauses 116 to 151).

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (12.09): I thank the Assembly for its indulgence in the somewhat unorthodox way we are doing this. It is complicated but it will all become obvious—it will become simpler because of this.

Ms Gallagher: I hope so.

MRS DUNNE: Look, I assure you, Chief Minister—only here to serve.

Part 7 will be opposed by the Canberra Liberals for a variety of reasons. As Mr Seselja said in his comments on the in-principle stage, the Canberra Liberals oppose the notion of union rights of entry under an entry permit scheme which is set up by this part. This part sets up the scheme to investigate reasonably suspected breaches of work health and safety. The reasons we do not support this are numerous.

The bill already proposes quite extensive powers to inspectors and the regulators, and these officials play an independent role, and they have higher levels of powers of entry and powers of search. Unions do not have the same levels of powers of entry and powers of search and, for the same reason, we would not support right of entry for any other group, be they employers or people who were just interested in occupational health and safety.

Any powers conferred on a union under part 7 could just as easily rest—and, in fact, they do rest—with inspectors or regulators. An example is the power to discuss work. With the exception perhaps of the issue of discussing work health and safety matters with employees, this is something which inspectors and regulators should be doing on a regular basis and, of course, they should be discussing these matters with employers as well.

Further, this part contemplates that unions will have a right of entry to a workplace based on reasonable suspicion. This issue of reasonable suspicion was commented on by the scrutiny of bills committee, and this test, which is relatively low and highly subjective, has been criticised on a number of occasions by the committee not just in relation to this but in relation to other bills that have come before the Assembly. The scrutiny of bills committee recommended that the reasonable suspicion should be replaced with a higher threshold of a reasonable belief.

To put it in sum, the Canberra Liberals oppose this entire part because it is an added level of bureaucracy and an added layer of compliance, and there are some onerous powers in here. As I have said before, the regulator and the inspectors already have powers of entry and powers of search. There are issues that have come up there which we will discuss later in the bill. I have concerns about the levels of powers the


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