Page 2402 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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(4) Did the new 2005 OHS regulations, at that time, reveal the potential for significant impact on ACT work places and was a broad public consultation process recommended; if so, has that occurred; if not, will it occur and when;

(5) Has the Minister sought to stifle public comment on the overhaul of the Act, inconsistent with the Council recommendations;

(6) Did the submission by the Australian Council of Trade Unions into the review of Comcare reveal that the expansion of Comcare has been a retrograde step in worker OHS protections and injured workers compensation and rights and entitlements and that it may be unconstitutional; if so, how can the Minister claim that these events show effectiveness of the regulatory effort and the requirements of good governance, best practice and comply with human rights equality before the law.

Mr Barr: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) The OHS Commissioner’s reports have been tabled in the Legislative Assembly and therefore are publically available. The Government is in the final stages of developing new legislation to repeal and replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1989 (the OHS Act). In 2007 the Government enacted the Occupational Health and Safety (General) Regulation 2007 (the General Regulation). The General Regulation is the first stage of a comprehensive set of regulations under the OHS Act. The General Regulation also revised the notification provisions for the legislation. $1.47 million has been allocated to implementation of the Work Safety Bill 2008, including the developing of critical regulations and codes of practice. Enforcement of the legislation is a matter for the Office of Regulatory Services (ORS) in the Department of Justice and Community Safety. ORS was established to provide simpler, clearer and more efficient organisational structures, scaled to the reality of a small city-state, and ready to support business in the ACT.

(2) The question is confusing and reveals a misunderstanding of the subject matter. The ACT Public Service has always been insured under Comcare, this has not changed. The Government is currently considering the Final Report on the ACT Workers Compensation Review. The Report has recently been referred to the OHS Council for advice.

(3) Again, the question is confusing, deals with a number of unrelated matters and reveals a misunderstanding of the subject matter. ACT Public Sector Worker’s rights and provisions in the OHS Act do not relate to the no disadvantage test. As mentioned above, the Government is in the final stages of developing the Work Safety Bill 2008. Consultation with the OHS Council has occurred on the provisions in the Bill.

(4) The Government did not enact OHS regulations in 2005.

(5) No. I have been consulting the OHS Council on the proposed Work Safety Bill 2008 and I released an exposure draft on 6 June 2008.

(6) This is not a matter for the ACT Government. The ACT Government has no jurisdiction over the expansion of Comcare.

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