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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4890 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of you, Mr Speaker, in bringing this bill together; and my predecessor, Mr Corbell, for making the decision to pursue industrial manslaughter as an offence. I am here as the third person in this chain and I am proud to be the minister responsible for this bill.

I would also like to thank the crossbench members for working with me on this-Kerrie Tucker for talking to me about education and the need to ensure that it is all in place before this law takes effect; Mrs Cross for holding two meetings that I attended, where discussions were useful and led to the government's amendments and, in terms of Mrs Cross's background and the conflict I think that she felt in dealing with small business, managing to look at the intent of the bill, to look at what the government was doing and overcome some significant challenges from her background to agree that this bill was the way to go. So to the crossbench I say thank you very much.

Before I finish I should just respond to some of the points raised by some of the speakers. I start with Mr Pratt. He accused that this law will drive businesses out of the ACT. To that I would say, "Employers who are responsible and take reasonable precautions to protect the safety of their workers have nothing to fear from this legislation."It is the irresponsible scaremongering by employer groups and to some extent the opposition that is frightening local businesses.

In terms of insurance, the claim that the impact on small business will drive insurance premiums up is totally inaccurate. It is not possible to insure against breaches of criminal law and the legislation will have no impact on insurance premiums.

You say that we are not serious about prevention. An earlier Liberal OH&S review that you mentioned, and I think Mr Smyth mentioned, focused on national competition policy only. There was no review of an effective compliance and enforcement model for OH&S.

Since coming to government, this government has required the OH&S Council to conduct a very thorough review of the OH&S Act, which took 12 months. It includes a range of recommendations for improved education and compliance sanctions that have been accepted by the government.

In relation to other governments not proceeding with this: the British government announced in May this year that it will introduce corporate killing legislation in autumn. Canada has already enacted corporate manslaughter legislation. The New South Wales government announced last week the inquiry to look at workplace deaths. So this issue is certainly not off the agenda in New South Wales. The Queensland government is still considering laws about workplace deaths and has specifically said that industrial manslaughter is not off the table.

In relation to some of the comments by Mr Stefaniak that the Criminal Code already applies to the manslaughter offence: again this is not correct. The corporate responsibility provisions in the Criminal Code only apply to new offences established after the Criminal Code took effect on 1 January 2003. So corporate responsibility provisions do not apply to the existing manslaughter offence. They would apply to the new industrial manslaughter provisions.

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