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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4864 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

commit any sort of crime-be it a crime in the workplace, robbing a bank or committing some sort of other crime in the community. We do not differentiate. It is terribly important to get it right, and the government, perhaps with very good intentions, has got it sadly wrong.

MS MacDONALD (5.44): I am sure it is no surprise to anybody that I rise in support of this very important bill, as many other people have today. I know that Sue Exner was in the gallery previously; I believe she is now in the committee room. As the mother of Joel Exner, who died back in October, I would like to pay tribute to her. I think it is very brave of her to have come along here today so soon after Joel's death.

I was speaking to Sue earlier. We were talking about Joel's death and how sad it is that he died at such a young age. She said he didn't realise the risks of going to work; he was just excited to be in the job. He was very excited to have got the job. Mr Deputy Speaker, a young man, 16 years of age, has been cut short before he has even had a chance to experience life.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the unfortunate thing is that it happens too often. There are many of us who go out to work every day and we shouldn't have to expect when we go to work that we may not come home again at the end of the day. But unfortunately, in all too many cases, that is what actually happens.

Mr Stanhope, in his speech, talked about this government being supportive of providing measures to have an education campaign through to a regime of sanctions. I would say that it is unfortunate that we actually need to introduce sanctions, but sometimes, Mr Deputy Speaker, just sometimes, the education doesn't work. If it did work, Mr Deputy Speaker, then we wouldn't have the situation where people were dying in their workplaces. If we have a situation where every employer and every employee out there were taking responsibility to ensure that all workplaces were healthy and safe places to work, then those accidents which needn't necessarily happen would not happen.

Obviously, where there is an act of God, that can't be prevented. But in the situation that we are talking about-a 16-year-old walking around on a roof, three days into the job, without the training, without the safety harness and not wearing the appropriate footwear-no wonder Joel ended up no longer with us. I think, if we can prevent even one death like this by introducing this legislation, this amendment bill to deter large corporations from actually allowing unsafe practices to take place, then it will have been worth while.

Mr Deputy Speaker, yesterday I actually moved a motion which everybody in this place supported and passed and which talked about the occupational health and safety awards. Mr Deputy Speaker, this legislation goes to the other end. Where yesterday I spoke about the important leadership provided by employers in providing safe and healthy workplaces, today we are speaking about letting employers know that this government will not accept, will absolutely not accept, recklessness or negligence that leads to the death of workers. We must send the message that, no matter who you are, if your actions or lack of actions have led to someone's death you will be held accountable.

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