Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 5 August 2021) . . Page.. 2358 ..
I have had the opportunity of discussing these issues with Kay on a number of occasions, including seeing her annually, often as a minister at the International Workers Memorial Day commemorations that are hosted by the unions every year. It is an incredibly moving ceremony. I want to acknowledge that contribution, and acknowledge the continuation of an ACT Labor government’s work to strengthen workplace safety laws.
Moving the industrial manslaughter offence from the Crimes Act into the Work Health and Safety Act is something that we should all be proud of. It comes from not only our own work here in the ACT but national work, including the Senate inquiry that ACT government officials and I gave evidence to, and work in other jurisdictions, who have learnt from us, and we continue to learn from them.
In introducing the bill, Minister Gentleman said that it was introduced in memory of those who never came home from work, who left empty chairs at dinner tables and a gaping hole in the hearts of their families, their colleagues and their mates. I join with Minister Gentleman in expressing those thoughts for all those families, friends and workmates who have lost loved ones in a workplace accident. I pay tribute to them. This bill is a tribute to them.
MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (11.10): I, too, rise to pass on my condolences to the friends and families of people who have died at work, people who have suffered preventable deaths. There were 182 in Australia in 2020 and 183 in 2019. To date in 2021, 60 Australian workers have died in a workplace. They are all preventable deaths. This bill will go a long way to making sure that people can go to work safely and return home to their loved ones safely.
I, too, want to recognise Kay Catanzariti and her work. Ben Catanzariti’s death here in the ACT was felt by the whole Canberra community. I acknowledge the hard work that Kay and her family put into this legislation, making sure that employers are held to account when somebody passes away on a worksite. This day will be remembered by all in the ACT community who felt deeply and despairingly when Ben passed away on that worksite many years ago now.
Other preventable deaths on an ACT worksite come to my mind. There was Wayne Vickery. Riharna Thomson died more recently in a racetrack accident. And there was the most recent death in Denman Prospect. All were avoidable and preventable deaths. That is what this legislation—brought forward by the ACT Labor government, with the support of the Greens political party—is about: to make sure that workers are safe at work and get to return home to their loved ones. This is more than just a law. This is about people’s lives, about making sure that people in our community are safe and are able to return home to their families.
I want to acknowledge the unions, which have fought for decades to ensure that workers are safe at work. They have advocated and agitated on behalf of their union