Acting Ai Group Queensland Head, Mark Goodsell, appeared before a Queensland Parliamentary Committee on September 25, 2017 to oppose many provisions of the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017.
Goodsell drew the committee's attention to the success that Queensland’s adoption of the nationally harmonised WHS laws had delivered in bringing down injury rates in the State.
"There has been no discussion on the positive trends in injury rates in the lead up to the proposed new legislation, or how the industrial manslaughter provisions in the Bill, and many other clauses, would work to reinforce this improving trend. We know from the past that wrongly structured and hastily drafted safety laws can do the exact opposite of what was intended," Goodsell said.
"The lack of deep consideration of the proposals has been astounding for a major piece of legislation proposing a significant offence carrying penalties of up to 20-year gaol terms. Businesses and those jointly managing safety in workplaces are entitled to expect a more robust process.
Goodsell went on to say the Bill's headline aim is to seek to retrofit the offence of industrial manslaughter into the State's WHS laws.
“Since 2011, the Qld WHS legislation has been based on the harmonised model laws adopted by three other States, both Territories and the Commonwealth. They form a ground-breaking wall of consistent, strong and effective responsibilities across the nation, so that all workers can enjoy the same level of protection and all employers understand their duties of care, no matter how and where they get their WHS information from.
"Australia took more than 20 years to achieve this and overcome the confusing, expensive and often contradictory differences that applied before, and it has formed a key part of our elevation to among the top half dozen nations in WHS. After the 2012 Pike River mining tragedy and much consideration, NZ also adopted the structure of Australia's model laws last year.
"The Qld Bill now seeks to do major surgery to this system, without any attempt to explain how it will produce better outcomes, or how the confusing array of responsibilities, offences and requirements will work together or interact with existing duties,” Goodsell said
"The understandable anguish of 2016 is not served well by a poorly conceived response. It is not even poorly argued – no case or argument has been put for industrial manslaughter.”
Image sourced from Flickr cc: Queensland State Archives