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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3497 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

just be another added layer of bureaucracy that people will need to be exercising and supervising the expedition of.

Mr Speaker, present OH&S regulations are more than adequate to cover all contingencies of management neglect relevant to the workplace. Individual workers, foremen, managers, CEOs are all accountable for their OH&S responsibilities. Mr Speaker, present statute law manslaughter provisions are also more than adequate to meet workplace safety and legal requirements. If a CEO is negligent and his lack of duty of care results in the death of an employee, statute manslaughter law would deal with that contingency.

Mr Speaker, if the law works and managers and business owners can be held accountable for workplace deaths, as is the case under present statute law and OH&S regulations, there is no need to introduce what is now being referred to as "industrial manslaughter". If there were gaps in existing law, then I would support the introduction of new laws, but that is simply not the case. I don't believe the committee has been able to prove that such gaps exist.

Mr Speaker, the whole idea of so-called industrial manslaughter legislation is based on political imperatives. I believe it is union driven. It is simply unacceptable that this committee report has not seen through that dynamic. This committee report has failed to fairly and objectively assess the workplace arena. It has been swayed by political imperatives, not by fundamental workplace requirements.

The committee has failed to notice that only the unions, this union-based government and the one government department responsible for industrial relations have called for this odious and divisive legislation. The committee has failed to take notice of the majority of community stakeholder groups who have repeatedly pointed, and continue to point, out the failures of industrial manslaughter and the detrimental impact that this would have on justice, fairness and the community generally.

Mr Speaker, we are all very concerned about workplace deaths. We must ensure that existing regulations are adjusted wherever necessary to tighten this up, and we have the mechanisms to do that. We have sufficient mechanisms also in place to guard against reckless management practices.

Mr Speaker, the history of the attempts to introduce an offence of industrial manslaughter across the Western world demonstrates that the proponents have failed dismally. Even labour-type jurisdictions here and overseas have on the main rejected industrial manslaughter.

Mr Speaker, industrial manslaughter is unfair. Industrial manslaughter is unnecessary. Industrial manslaughter is divisive. I believe the ACT community will be disappointed that this committee did not properly scrutinise this issue and have failed to uphold the principles of fairness in the workplace.

Debate (on motion by Ms Gallagher ) adjourned to the next sitting.

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