Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 183 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
A person who has, to any extent, control of -
(a) a workplace;
(b) a means of access to, or egress from, a workplace; or
(c) plant or a substance at a workplace;
shall take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that it is safe and without risk to health.
In all of those cases the penalties are 250 penalty units for a natural person and 1,250 penalty units for a body corporate; that is, $25,000 for an individual and $125,000 for a body corporate. Those are significant penalties for offences which should be protected in all circumstances. They are significant fines, for significant offences. It would be inappropriate to rule out any possibility of these penalties in any situation which might have come to notice were it not for a long coronial inquiry taking the decision point or prosecution past the time limit enunciated in the Magistrates Court Act 1930.
I should refer to the Magistrates Court Act in relation to that matter. At section 31, dealing with limitation of proceedings, subsection (1), the Magistrates Court Act states:
A prosecution in respect of an offence of which cognisance may be taken by the court may be commenced as follows:
(a) where the maximum term of imprisonment in respect of the offence, in the case of a first conviction, exceeds six months - at any time after the commission of the offence;
(b) where the maximum term of imprisonment in respect of the offence, in the case of a first conviction, does not exceed six months - at any time within one year after the commission of the offence;
(c) where the punishment provided in respect of the offence is a pecuniary penalty and no term of imprisonment is mentioned - at any time within one year after the commission of the offence.
Subsection 31(2) states:
Where by any law in force in the Territory, any longer time than the time provided by this section is provided for the commencement of a prosecution in respect of an offence against that law, a prosecution in respect of the offence may be commenced at any time within that longer time.