Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 182 ..
MR BERRY (10.33): Mr Speaker, I present the Occupational Health and Safety (Amendment) Bill 1999, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MR BERRY: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Mr Speaker, the Occupational Health and Safety (Amendment) Bill 1999 is about restoring the full effect of the legislation unexpectedly extinguished by the passage of time arising from the lengthy coronial inquiry into the tragic circumstances arising from the implosion of the hospital buildings on Acton Peninsula. I wish to make it absolutely clear at the outset, Mr Speaker, that in introducing this legislation today I make no inference as to the outcome of the ongoing inquiry into the hospital implosion, nor to any actions of anyone who may in any way be associated with the matter.
I propose to deal with the issues associated with the Bill in the following manner: Firstly, I will refer to the penalties and provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act which have been affected. Secondly, the chronology of events will be outlined to better inform members of the circumstances which gave rise to the Bill. Thirdly, the issue of retrospectivity and the Government's performance, particularly that of the Attorney-General, will be addressed. Fourthly, I will deal with the Dangerous Goods (Amendment) Bill, which has resulted from a further, related matter which has been brought to my attention as late as last week.
I turn to the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1989 and the respective penalties which I have set out to restore in respect of the hospital implosion and to protect for any future incidents which give rise to lengthy coronial inquiries. I want to refer to Part III of the Act to highlight the serious nature of the penalties and their respective provisions. I want to refer in particular to subsection 27(1), which talks about the obligations and duties of employers in relation to employees. It states:
An employer shall take all reasonably practicable steps to protect the health, safety and welfare at work of the employer's employees.
In section 28, dealing with duties of employers in relation to third parties, it states:
An employer should take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that persons at or near a workplace under the employer's control, who are not the employer's employees, are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the employer's undertaking.
Section 29, dealing with duties of persons in control of workplaces, states: