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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 5 August 2021) . . Page.. 2357 ..


I have received some feedback from employee organisations with questions about the implementation of this legislation, and I therefore look to the government to work closely with those organisations during its implementation.

Another important contribution is that an industrial manslaughter offence will help deter dangerous workplace incidents and practices. Once embedded in the act, industrial manslaughter will become the fourth and most severe category of offence. This offence is outcomes based, reflecting the seriousness of work safety breaches that cause deaths in the workplace.

WorkSafe ACT, the regulator for work health and safety, is primarily focused on encouraging and assisting industry to prevent work injuries from occurring, and it is in this respect that the deterrent effect of an industrial manslaughter offence is so valuable. Contemporary regulators like WorkSafe ACT rely on layers of enforcement responses to ensure compliance—from voluntary compliance in the form of guidance; deterrence tools such as compliance notices, injunctions and infringement notice penalties; through to sanctions in the forms of prosecutions and sanctions on authorisations.

The sanctions for industrial manslaughter also act as an effective deterrent to focus efforts on safety compliance and compliance-oriented behaviour that mitigate the risk of prosecution and also of injury and death. Under our work health and safety laws, the strong penalties commensurate with the gravity of a workplace death provide a strong incentive to ensure a business or undertaking is meeting its WHS duties and obligations.

Poor workplace safety practices continue to be prevalent, with risks to the safety of workers and others at the worksite. Therefore, I am pleased to speak in support of this bill and the improvements it will make to the range of enforcement responses available to WorkSafe ACT.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (11.07): I had not intended to speak on this bill, but it is really important as a continuation of the work that the ACT Labor government has done. Reflecting on some of the words that Rosemary Follett has used to talk about the first ACT Labor government, I note that one of the proudest things she achieved in that government was the introduction of workplace health and safety laws for the ACT. The ACT government was also the first government to introduce an industrial manslaughter offence in 2004.

I want to acknowledge not only the union representatives who are in the chamber and the gallery today but also Kay Catanzariti, who has experienced first-hand the loss of a family member in a workplace industrial accident. Kay’s incredible energy and tenacity in fighting for better workplace safety laws, particularly in industrial manslaughter, deserve to be recognised here in the chamber today.


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