Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 February 2016) . . Page.. 406 ..
I wondered whether “at the request” should be “despite the request”. It seems to that me that if you come on to my premises and I say, “Well, don’t show me your card,” and the inspector balks, he or she has got to leave the premises. If they do not, there is a 50 penalty unit fine.
I am not sure if it is clear in this section whether or not I am justified in not assisting the officer if, as the employer or the occupier or the premises, I make that request in the belief that, having made that request, the officer must leave the premises. I spoke to the minister earlier and he thought it was a lift from the federal act. If it is that in the federal act, then perhaps the federal act needs to be changed as well. I think there is uncertainty where, if you are requested not to do something and you comply, you therefore have to leave. You may end up leaving the officer in actual difficulty there.
The other issue that I had was—I asked several times and I have only got confirmation in the last few minutes—that there are apparently 38 inspectors but when you go on the website you cannot find who those inspectors are. For instance, if you go on the website under “Workplace health and safety entry permit holders” you can find a full list of them—all public—and, indeed, they seem to be all union representatives, which is interesting. I asked in the meeting and was told that they would check. The answer that came back simply said there are currently 38 inspectors, there have been no inspector suspensions since 2008, and the names of the inspectors have not been publicly released by WorkSafe. So there was doubt in my mind as to whether all of the inspectors were, in fact, government employees. The minister now assures me that they are, and it is reasonable that their names are not released. But I was kind of taken aback at the lack of information. All the briefing had to say was, “Well, they’re all government employees.” Well, the information that came back should have said that.
We know that inspectors are appointed under the Workers Compensation Act and that they must hold a qualification in work health and safety or a related discipline—it would be interesting to know what a “related discipline” is—and working towards a cert IV in government inspections or cert IV in government investigations or similar qualification or training. What is “similar qualification or training”?
At the heart of it, we are not convinced that this sort of general power needs to exist. We are not convinced that any case has been made. Nobody is directly at threat, certainly after hours or when premises are closed. If you have a case and you think there is a breach, it is not unreasonable to get a warrant of some kind. So in that regard we will be opposing clause 5 as is. I look forward to confirmation from the minister that clause 3 is actually workable and, should it be passed today, does not expose the inspectors. With that, we will certainly be supporting the return-to-work coordinators.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.54): This is a fairly straightforward bill that proposes two changes to improve workplace health and wellbeing. The first is that it requires any employer with an annual workers compensation premium of $200,000 or greater to employ a return-to-work coordinator. The bill sets out functions that return-to-work coordinators have to perform. These essentially are duties to assist injured