Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3494 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
an employee and what is not. Mr Speaker, it matters not whether someone is on your payroll. If you are responsible through your management for practices which result in the death of somebody, and it can be proven under rigorous examination that your negligence or deliberate action caused the death of this person in the workplace, then you should be charged. Opposition to this legislation would see these people escape.
It is appalling, I say to you, Mr Speaker, that people would not understand that this legislation is all about proportioning responsibility and holding people to account. It is not about trying to frighten people, which is what I have seen in the media. I would expect, Mr Speaker, that this Assembly would in fact support the apportionment of that responsibility, when you consider that there's nothing new in this, except for the entrÃ©e of corporate culture, corporate responsibility and a clarification of definition.
I strongly urge the Assembly to pass this legislation. I strongly urge the opposition to reconsider their position on it. I strongly urge the media and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to start representing their members instead of scaring the hell out of them.
MS TUCKER (11.47): I think that the work the committee has done in looking at this legislation is very important work. I am obviously supporting the recommendations of the committee, along with Mr Hargreaves.
I am also, I have to say, quite concerned about media coverage of this matter. I was very concerned also about some of the statements made by the chamber of commerce as well, because the arguments that were put in the paper today were actually put by them in the committee process as well and were responded to. It's unfortunate if people continue to just say the same thing without actually bothering to respond to the counterarguments in any way. It, of course, has alarmed people.
I note one comment that was in the paper today from Mr Peters. He said that, no matter how safety conscious an employer was, there were some accidents that were simply outside their control. He also said:
It could affect every business, but especially those in higher-risk industries such as construction, and there are people who have been running successful companies for 20 or 30 years who will find it too difficult to go on.
There is another quote from another person:
We are well aware of our training and safety needs. Why do we need to have a 25-year jail term hanging around our necks for something we can't do anything to avoid?
For the information of members and for the information of Mr Peters-although he really should know this-this bill basically establishes a new offence of industrial manslaughter and clarifies and defines the range of employment relationships.
Death in the workplace is a very serious matter. The fact that we do not have many is not a reason to not create law which deals with the offence. I have to say, it is a very strange argument to suggest that, because a crime doesn't happen very often, you don't bother to legislate against it. I am sure people who loved victims of crimes would like to hear that particular argument. In this case, the victims would be dead and not able to comment.