Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 5 August 2021) . . Page.. 2359 ..
members on worksites all across the ACT to have this kind of legislation brought into the ACT to make sure that future workplaces are safe; that workers are not killed; and that, if accidents do occur, employers are held accountable for that.
I commend the bill to the Assembly and I thank the Assembly for the chance to talk about this today.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.13), in reply: I thank colleagues for their comments today and their passion for looking after workers across the ACT.
This bill is fundamental to the government’s commitment to protecting workers. The ACT community rightly expects every worker to return home to their family safe and well at the end of every working day. Workplace safety is a right that must be protected at all costs. Work should be fulfilling, enriching, secure and safe. Every workplace death is preventable. Every workplace death is a tragedy.
I introduced this bill to the Assembly in memory of those who have never come home from work and for the devastated families, colleagues and communities that they have left behind. Today, we remember them.
We know that workplace deaths shatter families. With us today we have such a family. Kay, thank you for being here today. I am sorry that you are, but I thank you for sharing Ben’s story with me and so many others.
Also here today are the colleagues, friends and representatives of working people. To my union colleagues in the chamber today, I say thank you. Thank you for your tireless advocacy. This legislation would not have come about without the strength of our movement. Together, we will continue to fight for working people in this city.
We need the strongest possible deterrents for dangerous workplace practices in order to prevent deaths and serious injuries. The changes in this bill leverage the strengths of the work health and safety legislative framework to allow this most serious of workplace safety failings to have a proportionate and serious consequence and to hold responsible parties accountable.
The bill replaces the current industrial manslaughter offence under the Crimes Act and provides a fourth category of offence for work safety noncompliance.
Under the bill, the new and improved industrial manslaughter offence expands the coverage of the offence provisions in two important respects. Firstly, it will apply to all persons conducting a business or undertaking. Secondly, it will allow action in respect of the death of any person. This contrasts with the current arrangements, which can apply only where there is an employment relationship between the negligent employer or officer and the person who has died.