Page 2007 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013

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The government is not being tardy in its response at all. The government has agreed from day 1, from the day the report was received, that we will employ more work safety inspectors. We are going to follow through on that commitment, which members will see when the budget is released next month. We have also said that we are going to revise the legislation. We are going to give our inspectors more capacity for on-the-spot fines so that a clear message can be sent promptly and clearly to employers and others who breach their safety duties that there are immediate, real and financial consequences for their actions.

We have introduced the exposure draft of new legislation for the Industrial Court to bring a focus for occupational health and safety and other industrial relations matters before a dedicated court which can develop a dedicated expertise on these issues. Again, this is the implementation of a recommendation from the McCabe-Briggs report, as well as a Labor election commitment. So we are showing our willingness to act, to act in a timely way and to follow through on those things that we have agreed to.

Finally, I note that in Mr Rattenbury’s amendment he has suggested that there should be an annual review process. The government has no objections to the amendment. The only point I would make is that the government has already actually agreed to a six-monthly reporting obligation to the Assembly. If Mr Rattenbury says he only wants a year, so be it. But we are open to a regular reporting arrangement to the Assembly, and we have already agreed as such.

It is this Labor government that has chosen to make work safety a priority. We did not hear Mr Seselja or any other shadow minister raising concerns about workplace safety over the last few years. In fact, they voted against reforms to laws, including harmonisation, I think, of work safety laws here in the ACT. So it is a bit rich for them to be pious on this issue. It is a bit rich for them to be pious on this issue. But we know that Mr Seselja is going to fit in very well with the other neo-cons up in the Senate.

Madam Deputy Speaker, it was this government and this Chief Minister after the election that said she wanted this issue fixed. She created a dedicated ministry of workplace safety. She said this was an area that needed to be addressed. I am pleased that she has given me the opportunity to do that.

We are following through on these commitments. We are implementing the outcomes of McCabe-Briggs in full. We are working closely with industry. We are going to continue to advocate, to implement and to act on a whole range of measures which we hope will drive improvements, the improvements that are needed so that workers get home safely at the end of a working day.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.48): I thank Mr Gentleman for bringing this motion to the Assembly today. It comes at an important time for work safety in the ACT.

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