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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1600 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

Let us recognise that this is a problem across state and territory borders, that there is a clear need for legislative reform, and that governments at all levels must lead on this issue to ensure the maintenance of community standards. It is time to show that governments do support the workers they also represent, that loss of life at a workplace is as serious and tragic as a loss of life on our roads and that legislation will ensure that those responsible for that death can be held accountable.

I call on all MLAs here today to support the motion, which calls on the government to introduce this important legislation and, by doing so, support ACT workers. As I have mentioned, there are moves all over Australia towards making corporations and directors criminally liable when they have failed in their duty to provide safe working environments for their employees.

Legislation in Victoria would have seen fines of up to $5 million for a company and fines of up to $180,000 for an individual, with a possible five-year jail sentence. Unfortunately, though perhaps not surprisingly, this legislation was blocked by the Liberals in the upper house, and Victorian workers have lost whatever protection they may have been granted by these reforms.

The Beattie government in Queensland looks like it may be successful when it introduces dangerous industrial conduct laws some time in the new year. If the ACT is able to introduce laws before then, this government will be the first in Australia to recognise the protection that workers deserve and the liability that corporations must accept for any negligence.

I strongly urge the Assembly to support this motion. Workers deserve to know that there is more than an insignificant fine compelling corporations to provide safe workplaces and practices. They deserve to know that a failure to provide safe conditions when that failure results in death will see that that corporation is held accountable. Workers deserve the support of members of this Assembly, and I urge you all to vote for this motion.

MR PRATT (10.50): I rise to support the general thrust of this motion. Industrial deaths are unacceptable and any workplace which has in place practices which are risky to the point that deaths are going to occur more easily than they should certainly needs to be condemned. Like everything else in life, risk management procedures are not watertight and they are not foolproof. Deaths and injuries may occur. But so long as management has in place ample correct procedures in accordance with best practices, Commonwealth legislation and territorial legislation, then we should be quite supportive.

In the public sector, the ACT government will be responsible to ensure that the safety management procedures in place now are adequate and are continually quality assurance and quality control checked and brought up to date. I would hope that the ACT government is able to continue to review those procedures.

Last year, before I began campaigning for a seat in this place, I undertook a number of consultancy tasks as a safety management consultant working for various agencies. I was quite impressed that some elements of the public sector and some elements of the private sector were taking very seriously the need to ensure that their workers were working in

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