Page 4123 - Week 13 - Thursday, 31 October 2013
the general advice is to keep clean, to wash your hands, that kind of extra advice. Rest assured, everyone, if you have reusable bags and you are using them in the shops and you are taking normal care of those, there should be no risk to your health.
MS BERRY: My question is to the Attorney-General. Can the Attorney-General please update the Assembly on the establishment of a new industrial magistrates court in the ACT?
MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Berry for the question. Of course, earlier this week the Assembly adopted the government’s legislation to establish a new industrial court as part of the ACT Magistrates Court, within the broader ambit of the ACT Magistrates Court, for a dedicated industrial magistracy. This new court is an important initiative that will give well-deserved attention to the issue of worker safety in our court system and allow our courts and our magistrates to develop further specialisation in the area of workplace safety law and also workers compensation law.
Now that the law has been passed, I expect that the Magistrates Court will start to prepare for the implementation of the new law. It is worth highlighting that the implementation of this new law will encompass the existing jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court in terms of the value of matters that are heard before it, a maximum of a quarter of a million dollars in value. The normal sentencing arrangements and therefore thresholds for matters to be heard in the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court will continue.
The establishment of this court is an important reform on the part of the government. I was delighted to see the presence in the chamber earlier this week of representatives of building trade unions in particular, but indeed other unions in the ACT as well, who recognise that this is a reform that they have long fought for, one which they believe is important in giving a dedicated focus to judicial consideration of worker health and safety and compensation matters and one that they, I know, consider to be critical in ensuring that we continue to build the case law around the sentencing from convictions when it comes to certain types of workers compensation and work health and safety matters.
This reform will achieve those outcomes. I know that the Magistrates Court is already giving consideration to how it will proceed with this reform. We look forward to working further with the court on that matter.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Berry.
MS BERRY: Minister, can you please outline how the new court will help to improve workplace health and safety in Canberra?
MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Berry for the supplementary. The Getting home safely report recommended the implementation of these new arrangements. The report commented on the need for courts to apply appropriate penalties, particularly as work health and safety is now harmonised across Australia. As the report pointed out, it is