Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1604 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
The government and I as Minister for Industrial Relations find it unacceptable that at the start of the 21st century some of our fellow citizens will not return home to their families, simply because they went to work and were killed in the workplace.
In recognition of the responsibility that we as the government have to do all we can to eliminate the risk of workplace death in the ACT, I have directed the Occupational Health and Safety Council to advise me on the introduction of industrial manslaughter as a crime in the ACT. The creation of the offence of industrial manslaughter and its inclusion in the Crimes Act are a key election commitment for the government and we believe will focus attention on the need for employers to comply with occupational health and safety legislation.
The government will bring forward legislation amending the Crimes Act 1900 to incorporate a new offence of industrial manslaughter. The focus will be to establish the culpability of an individual in the event of fatalities occurring as a result of an employer's negligence. This government is committed to implementing changes that will compel all parties involved in the workplace to focus on injury prevention and injury management.
The introduction of industrial manslaughter will coincide with a wide-ranging review of the compliance model within the Occupational Health and Safety Act, another key election commitment of the government. The compliance model will take into consideration the jurisdictional roles and responsibilities of ACT WorkCover under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Australian Federal Police under the Crimes Act 1900. The amending legislation will also provide specific and clearly definable circumstances in which an investigation of this nature will be undertaken.
I have given specific direction to the Occupational Health and Safety Council to research and prepare materials in regard to the implementation of this extremely significant issue for the labour movement and for all people engaged in workplaces in Canberra. Our intent is to thoroughly investigate this matter and to provide effective and efficient legislation to deal with this very significant occupational health and safety issue.
I am pleased to confirm today, as a result of Ms Gallagher's motion, the government's intention to bring forward amending legislation during this year's spring sitting. I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MS TUCKER (11.09): Thank you to Ms Gallagher for raising this important matter in the Assembly. I am pleased to hear Mr Corbell's statements regarding the Labor government's intentions in this area. It is unacceptable that Australia has such a high rate of industrial deaths. It is much higher than the rate in the US and even higher than the rate in the United Kingdom. I understand that there are slight differences in how fatalities are measured and what causes fatalities. As I understand it, Australia takes into account occupational death resulting from disease such as asbestosis. So there are issues of methodology in comparisons. However, it is still absolutely clear that too many people are dying as a result of a workplace incident.