Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4868 ..
MS MacDONALD (continuing):
debate. I think it is important that we have a strong, vigorous debate about these issues. But as I said before, it was always going to be the case that the employer organisations would say the sky was falling in, because that is what they do.
However, when they start giving out incorrect information, that is unacceptable as well. Let's play fair here. Let's talk about what is really going to happen. It is not going to be the situation where we will go out and pursue people who have done nothing wrong. If you have done nothing wrong, if you have ensured that your workplace has got safe health practices in place and have minimised the risks, then you have nothing to fear.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I would also like to thank the department for having put all the work into the bill that they have done and, once again, those people who have turned up and have come from Sydney, including Joel's family. As I said before, I think that Sue is a very brave woman for having come down. I understand she has taken on the Prime Minister today and tried to get him to talk about a human response as opposed to a political response. I think that is very admirable on her part, and I applaud her for that.
Finally, Mr Deputy Speaker, I just reiterate that the offence will only be committed if the conduct has caused the worker's death by either being reckless or negligent. You have to have done something on purpose, by being negligent or being reckless. It is not if somebody else, a third party, has caused it that you will be charged; it is if you have contributed to it yourself. Mr Deputy Speaker, I commend the bill.
MR BERRY (6.03): I too would like to acknowledge the family and friends of those who have been killed as a result of industrial accidents in other places and who have the strength and commitment to come to the Australian Capital Territory while we have this debate in this Assembly. They hope-and it is my hope-that the success of this debate will lead to changes in other jurisdictions and that workers, as a result, will find themselves in safer circumstances as they get on with life.
I would also like to acknowledge that people from the employer groups were in the Assembly earlier. I would also like to say that I am a little disappointed with the organised employer groups' approach to this because I think the message that they have sent out in representing their employers has been quite inaccurate. I will say some more on that a little later.
The history of workplace safety is an experience that many of us have had in our working lives. I am no different. I started work a long time ago. I don't look like it, I know, but I did start work a long time ago when there was less concern about workplace safety. I do recall vividly an incident where I was working in a parquetry tile factory, with a machine that cut up pieces of wood into smaller pieces to make parquetry tiles. I had a co-worker working with me. This machine had a number of blades in it which cut the timber to the required size. If you can imagine a piece of timber about twice as thick as a paling and it goes through a machine and gets sliced into strips. There are a number of blades that slice it into strips.
We sometimes used different sized pieces of timber-one was about 75 millimetres wide and one was about 90 millimetres wide. But they used the same set of saws for both pieces of wood, which meant there was an off-cut. My job was to stop the off-cut from being caught in the saw blades and hitting my co-worker. I still recall the day when