Page 5715 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009
Regulations can often appear complex to small businesses who often are specialists in their trade or area of business expertise first and business managers second. And it is not through lack of goodwill that they might fall down. That is where I think that an appropriate gentle approach is necessary from WorkCover and other regulators.
Ms Bresnan touched on an important matter, which is the inconsistency that we have seen in the administration in WorkCover, especially the time between workplace inspections in the sex industry. She commented on this, and it has been a matter that both she and I have commented on on a number of occasions. It took more than five years between inspections.
I was pleased to note that inspections have recently taken place and I was pleased to note that on this occasion, when inspections took place, there was no warning to the brothels that were visited. As a result, we have seen a number of breaches recorded and, in fact, business will close for periods of time to require them to rectify the breaches. This shows that there are problems in that industry, and it is incumbent upon WorkCover to have a regular regime of visiting workplaces.
The sex industry is a difficult area for regulators. They probably find it an area that they are not comfortable in regulating, for a variety of reasons. But as I commented to someone recently, there has been a death in a brothel in the last 18 months or so in the ACT. If that had happened on any work site, there would have been, and rightly so, WorkCover people going to visit on a regular basis to ensure that whatever went wrong did not go wrong again.
But we had a death in a brothel. We had a death from a prohibited substance that should not have been on the site, of someone who should not have been working in a brothel. But there were no inspections. There were no follow-ups to see that those events did not occur again. I think that this is a particular failing on the part of the work safety authorities in the ACT.
I thank Ms Bresnan for this important matter that she has brought on. I think that it is something that we have to work collaboratively on to have gradual improvement. You can never say, “We have done that; it is all good,” and fold your arms and feel satisfied. We have to be constantly vigilant to ensure that we do provide a safe and healthy workplace for our workers in the ACT.
MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Hargreaves): The discussion is concluded.
Planning, Public Works and Territory and Municipal Services—Standing Committee
MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (3.48): I present the following paper:
Planning, Public Works and Territory and Municipal Services—Standing Committee—Report 4—Inquiry into Live Community Events—Interim report, dated 3 December 2009, including additional comments (Ms Le Couteur), together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.