Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3913 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

Territory. Mr Speaker, the amendments to clause 10 deal with proposed section 25B on page 3 of the Bill I introduced in June 1999. The amendments are to do with the functions of the proposed Occupational Health and Safety Commissioner. They merely add the associated laws to the functions of the Occupational Health and Safety Commissioner and ensure that the Dangerous Goods Unit recommendation of the coroner is accommodated in this statutory authority. All of the updated associated laws are also accommodated in the amendments I circulated. Mr Speaker, they will bring this statutory officer up to speed in so far as independence from the Government and freedom from interference by Ministers are concerned.

Further amendments which I have developed following those consultations basically pick up some good ideas in the Bill, that is, where a Minister issues a direction to the authority the Territory must pay for the reasonable cost of complying with the direction, and there is a method for calculating what is reasonable in the absence of any agreement with the relevant Minister. An inconsistency clause in the existing Act refers to the associated laws; but, of course, we cannot apply the inconsistency rule with a law of the Commonwealth and the non-application of that clause in relation to the law of the Commonwealth is referred to. There are some other machinery changes and there is a new reporting requirement which, sensibly, has been picked up in the WorkCover Authority Bill of the Government. I have included those in these amendments to ensure that all aspects of the Occupational Health and Safety (Amendment) Bill (No. 2) which I introduced on 30 June are brought up to date.

To summarise what I have said so far, the Bill that I have introduced accommodates the recommendations of the coroner. It also addresses the need to deal with previous events where there has been ministerial interference in the duties of WorkCover inspectors. My Bill sets out to rule out the entrenchment of ministerial interference in the operation of WorkCover. The Government's Bill makes sure that it continues, and that is what we are trying to avoid. The Bill that I introduced on 30 June satisfies both problems and addresses the coroner's report, particularly in respect of the need to involve all stakeholders.

Mr Speaker, I intend through my Bill to maintain the premier status of the Occupational Health and Safety Council in its advisory capacity to the Minister and to ensure that any laws that are applied to the Occupational Health and Safety Commissioner are applied after full consultation with the relevant people out there in the community, those stakeholders who have been abandoned by the Government in the preparation of its legislation. The amendments pick up the positive and good ideas in the Government's legislation and apply them to a superior model which I hope will be endorsed by members of the Assembly when the time to vote comes.

MS TUCKER (8.49): Speaking to both pieces of legislation, I would echo the concerns that Mr Berry raised about the timing of the Government's proposal. The Government's Bill was tabled only in the last sitting period. I understand that the major stakeholder bodies, including the Occupational Health and Safety Council, created under the Occupational Health and Safety Act were not given time formally to discuss the Government's Bill. Given the enormous expertise of the council on OH&S issues, it is

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .