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News Media Releases O’Brien wrong: WA doesn’t need to procrastinate over harmonised OHS laws
O’Brien wrong: WA doesn’t need to procrastinate over harmonised OHS laws
Monday, 26 September 2011 14:21

UnionsWA today condemned the Barnett Government for trying to stall WA signing on to harmonised occupational health and safety laws.

“How long does the state government need? They’ve been procrastinating about this for ages, and now they decide at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon that they won’t be able to implement the national occupational safety and health laws on January 1, 2012, despite other states saying they can,” said UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk.

“This is the Barnett club giving the longest ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse, despite South Australia and Queensland saying they can implement the laws on time.”

Simon O’Brien, Minister for Commerce, today claimed that ‘WA has been left with an impossibly short period of time in which to analyse the impact’ of introducing the harmonised laws.

The Workplace Relations Ministerial Council agreed more than two years ago to harmonise occupational health and safety laws to achieve the best possible approaches to health and safety for all Australian workers, said Ms McGurk.

“But our State Government has indicated that it won’t sign off on five crucial points of the new law. Why not? Mr Barnett needs to spell out his reasons for not delivering the highest standard laws for the safety of workers,” Ms McGurk said.

UnionsWA has learnt that WA legislation will not increase penalties in line with other states for serious breaches of health and safety laws. It wants to impose maximum penalties at about the $630,000 mark, while other states are lifting the fine to $3million.

“This is particularly offensive as WA hosts the world’s two biggest mining companies,” Ms McGurk said.

The WA Government also does not want families or unions to be able to initiate prosecutions against companies. It wants to stop unions from immediately entering worksites where there has been a breach of safety laws, and it won’t allow trained health and safety representatives to direct work to stop if there is an imminent risk to the workers’ safety.


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