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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 September 2019) . . Page.. 3742 ..

We heard this with the SPIRE project, another back-of-the-drink-coaster plan for a Brigadoon, the imaginary new SPIRE project promised before the election. This government has form in this regard. It cannot be trusted. It makes promises in this space that it either lacks the ability to back up or has no intention of backing up. It is a shame that here we have yet another broken promise on health from this government.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Workplace safety performance 2018-19

Ministerial statement

MS ORR (Yerrabi—Minister for Community Services and Facilities, Minister for Disability, Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety and Minister for Government Services and Procurement) (10.11): Today I want to talk about the important issue of worker safety. Raising safety standards is a key focus area for the government, and as Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety I will be working hard to help industry improve its work safety and injury management performance.

Members may be concerned to hear that in the last financial year alone more than 1,600 ACT private sector workers were injured so badly at work that they had to take time off. In the same period an additional 200 ACT public sector workers were injured so seriously that they were unable to return to their jobs for more than a week.

Safe Work Australia has estimated that work-related injury and disease cost the ACT economy $1.8 billion per annum. These costs are disproportionately borne by injured workers, in the order of 77 per cent. The adverse health, social and economic impacts of work injury are disturbing and hard to ignore. That is why I am pleased to report that the 2018-19 financial year saw a range of ACT government initiatives make a positive contribution to injury prevention and management performance.

In January 2019 the ACT government implemented a contractor certification scheme that requires all tenderers and contractors for ACT government construction, cleaning, security and traffic management work to be periodically audited against workplace standards. Contractors cannot submit tenders for covered work unless those audits show they are meeting their work safety, workers compensation and other workplace relations obligations. By the end of 2018-19 almost 900 businesses had been audited and verified compliant.

This scheme, which supports the secure local jobs code, is helping to build community confidence that government contracts are being managed safely and also creates a financial incentive for ACT businesses to focus on their work safety performance. I am pleased to confirm that by the end of this calendar year the scheme will be expanded to cover most large government contracts for labour.

Last year also saw the government make several amendments to work safety laws that were designed to improve safety in the construction industry. The first was an amendment to mandate a working safely with asbestos-containing materials course for people in certain high-risk occupations. As members are aware, asbestos is an ongoing risk to the community and to the health of workers.

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