Page 2002 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013
The Inquiry Panel was impressed with the way many players in the industry saw culture change as a key step in the renewal process. They identified a can-do culture of tough men working to do a tough job who pride themselves on their achievements in getting the job done in a tight timeframe. There seems to be a nonchalance about work health and safety dangers and a desire to avoid anything that might be seen as weak or “sissy”. Doing things quickly and easily is their unofficial motto: they do not want to be constrained by rules, paperwork and restrictions on using their common sense. In many ways this culture is admirable and has made the national capital what it is today. But, every culture needs to grow and develop, and this is certainly the case in the construction industry.
If we are all trying to do our best on workplace safety, one needs to ask why there is this divergence in ideals. This simply shows that the labour movement are the ones caring on the ground every day and making sure that workers are brought home safely. They do this by fighting constantly to make sure they name and shame those businesses that are showing poor track records and standing up for workers employed on our building sites and on our roads.
It is only appropriate that we note the ACT government must ensure that, when it comes to the procurement of works across the territory, safety is a paramount issue. This is a sound step the government can take to ensure the safe return of all those that gain employment through these initiatives. This government is acting to ensure every employee has the right to return home in the same safe condition that they left in in the morning, and the government is committed to working to provide this assurance to families through agreeing to all the recommendations within the government’s response, stating on page 1:
The Government acknowledges the findings of the Inquiry and supports the view that urgent changes are required. To achieve this, a collaborative and genuine approach that includes industry, worker organisations, importantly every person working on a construction site and government is required.
Madam Deputy Speaker, we also need to point out the great contribution these workers provide to the community outside their working hours. They are raising children, they are out there every weekend coaching the local kids’ sports teams, manning the charity BBQ or even just spending quality time with their family and friends. These workers are people’s friends, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. As a loving father, I could not stand to think of my children working somewhere that is not safe for them in any way. My heart goes out to the families and friends who have received “that” phone call. As a government we need to do everything within our power, including through the procurement process, to ensure that no parent, wife, husband or friend ever need to receive “that” call due simply to a decision made giving cost precedence over safety. I urge all members to support this motion.
MR SESELJA (Brindabella) (11.28): I foreshadow that the opposition will be supporting Mr Rattenbury’s amendment to Mr Gentleman’s motion. We think that this improves the motion and takes away the self-congratulatory nature of the motion, particularly given the record of this Labor government when it comes to safety over the last decade. I think that Mr Gentleman, in his speech, departed from many of the