Page 5707 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009

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Finally, I would also like to thank the contributions from the broad community sector, our multicultural sector, and the efforts of my departmental officials. I am proud to be a minister who will oversee the implementation of the ACT multicultural strategy 2010-2013 and I look forward to the changes and improvements it will help us to make in the lives of the multicultural community. I commend the strategy to the Assembly.

Health and safety in the workplace

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Hargreaves): Members, Mr Speaker has received letters from Ms Bresnan, Mr Coe, Mr Doszpot, Mrs Dunne, Mr Hanson, Mr Hargreaves, Ms Hunter, Ms Le Couteur, Ms Porter, Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Mr Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Ms Bresnan be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

Health and safety in the workplace.

Mrs Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Assistant Speaker. On Tuesday, Mr Speaker ruled out of order two lots of MPIs because they anticipated debate in accordance with standing order 130, I think. On the program today is a bill relating to workers compensation which covers pretty much the same area as is covered by this MPI. In fact, in her introductory speech to that bill the minister on a number of occasions talks about people suffering injuries arising in the course of their employment; creating an environment that would facilitate injured workers returning to safe work; fair treatment for injured workers and so on. This is all about treatment for injured workers and health and safety in the workplace. I would seek your ruling on whether or not this is in order.

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Thanks very much, Mrs Dunne. I would just remind members to examine the notice paper before actually submitting MPIs. It is a good piece of advice I received earlier on: to check the wording with the Clerk. But my ruling in this particular regard is that the bill before the Assembly on the notice paper is quite specific and that this matter of public importance title that Ms Bresnan has put forward is quite broad and it would be not appropriate to rule it out of order.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (3.18): Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker. Occupational health and safety is an issue that goes to the heart of the relationship between a worker and their employer. It is the moral and spiritual foundation of the union movement and a flashpoint of conflict in the arena of industrial relations. It is at the core of the implicit right of every person in the workplace, be they worker, employer, contractor or visitor, to be safe.

I should note that this matter comes before the Assembly just after the 25th anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. On 2 December 1984, a gas leak from the chemical plant created a cloud of toxic gases that spread amongst the population of the town. Eight thousand

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