Page 4539 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 18 October 2011

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commonwealth, what advantages does this legislation have for ACT businesses and workers?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Porter for the question. As members are aware, the Assembly passed the Work Health and Safety Act on 20 September 2011, with a number of other jurisdictions already passing their legislation or having it before their parliaments.

We are now working to finalise the regulations and codes of practice that will underpin the act. The keystone of harmonisation and the ensuing benefits for business and workers in the ACT will essentially be the consistency that applies—that is, consistency for duty holders, consistencies in the requirements for licensing, the registration of plant, and mutual recognition of these; consistency in the requirement of reporting of incidents, in record-keeping and worker consultation requirements and consistency in the way the new legislation will be enforced through a national compliance and enforcement policy.

Importantly for workers, they can be assured that no matter where they work in Australia they are entitled to the same level of safety at their workplace and that any licences they have will be recognised in every state and territory. Importantly, businesses will also be aware that their responsibilities are the same no matter where their business is located, meaning that they need only have one safety management system to comply with the requirements of all jurisdictions and they will have the benefit of knowing that regulators will be enforcing the legislation consistently across Australia.

MS PORTER: Minister, will there be any cost savings to doing business in the region?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Porter for the question. Yes, it is expected that there will be significant savings for business in terms of cost of doing business with only having one set of rules. I think this is particularly relevant to the ACT where we are surrounded by New South Wales and many of our businesses, including small businesses, have been required to operate under two systems depending on where their workers spend the majority of their time working.

The regulatory impact statement that was done as part of the harmonised laws estimated a national net benefit of $250 million per annum over each of the next 10 years, essentially reflecting the reduced red tape for business and better work and health safety standards for workers.

Public service—enterprise bargaining negotiations

DR BOURKE: Chief Minister, can you please provide the Assembly with an update of how enterprise bargaining negotiations are going for public servants?

MS GALLAGHER: The short answer is very well. The majority of bargaining representatives have accepted the government’s offer of a 3.5 per cent pay increase from 18 August 2011 with a further 3.5 per cent increase from 1 July 2012.

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