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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 August 2008) . . Page.. 3191 ..

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Work Safety Bill 2008

Mr Barr, by leave, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (11.33): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, today I introduce the Work Safety Bill 2008. This bill will replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1989 with a modern set of work safety laws that reflect the realities of working and doing business in the territory. Almost 20 years ago, the first Assembly enacted the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1989. While this achievement has served the territory well, it has become outdated. There is an urgent need to replace the ACT’s safety legislation to address contemporary changes to work and employment arrangements and to address emerging risks such as occupational violence, bullying, stress and fatigue.

The Work Safety Bill 2008 addresses the deficiencies in the current act and presents a modern regime intent on securing work safety for all workers while not hampering business. The development of this bill stretches back to September 2005 and the review by the Occupational Health and Safety Council of the existing act. The council made a wide range of recommendations relating to the current act, including that it should be repealed and new legislation developed. I would like to take this opportunity to thank council members, past and present, for their work in the development of the bill.

The tabling of this bill comes at a time when all governments across Australia have committed to work cooperatively to harmonise occupational health and safety laws. Both the Workplace Relations Ministers Council and the Council of Australian Governments have committed to adopting model OHS laws. While the ACT government is strongly committed to this work, the current ACT legislation needs to be replaced now. COAG’s accelerated implementation timetable for national uniformity is very optimistic, and it is possible that model legislation could be delayed beyond 2011, despite the best intentions of all involved. Given the current age of the act, it is not an option to defer the passage of this bill in light of national developments.

Members will be aware that on 6 June 2008 I released an exposure draft of the Work Safety Bill for six weeks of community consultation. I would like to thank the organisations that took part in the consultation, and those submissions have informed the final bill presented today.

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