Page 3940 - Week 09 - Thursday, 25 August 2011

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be identified as Gail Mensinga. She has said that she has been treated very poorly by the ACT government and wanted to be added to the long list of—

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, the time for discussion has expired.

Work Health and Safety Bill 2011

Debate resumed.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Health and Minister for Industrial Relations) (4.17), in reply: I thank other members for their contribution on the Work Health and Safety Bill earlier, prior to lunch. I would like to table a revised explanatory statement for the bill. This bill confirms the government’s commitment, along with all other jurisdictions, to harmonise occupational health and safety laws in Australia. It is another step in the government’s agreement to participate in the delivery of a national seamless economy under the COAG-led national partnership agreement.

This is a bill that will assist the day-to-day operation of businesses throughout the territory and provide certainty of safety obligations for those companies that operate across the border into New South Wales and beyond and those companies based in the ACT that have workers across the border. For the first time in Australian history, if an employer is complying with this law they can rest assured that they are complying with all the laws and obligations across our borders.

There has also been a considerable amount of work undertaken by regulators around Australia. They have developed a national compliance and enforcement policy that for the first time will give our stakeholders surety in the way regulators will deal with them no matter where they are in Australia. The laws will be the same and will be regulated the same, no matter if the workplace is in the ACT or in Queanbeyan, or for that matter at BHP in Queensland or at a workplace in Tasmania.

The bill will enact the model Work Health and Safety Act, with only very minor jurisdictional modifications. The bill will be supplemented by model regulations and model codes of practice, which were recently agreed at a Workplace Relations Ministers Council. All of these documents have been subject to extensive public and stakeholder consultation and it is anticipated that the bill will commence on 1 January 2012.

In the ACT we are fortunate that our current work safety legislation is amongst the most modern and up-to-date legislation in the country. We developed these laws in 2008 in anticipation of harmonisation and we should be proud of the extent to which the process drew on the concepts and provisions of our own legislation. Because of this, I think it is fair to say that businesses will remain compliant with the provisions of the bill and the overall changes it brings are minimal.

However, there are three important changes: the removal of Crown immunity from prosecution of offences under the act and regulations, bringing the ACT into line with all other jurisdictions; the removal of the statutory right of prosecution for employee and employer groups that exists currently under the Work Safety Act; and the

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