Sydney Morning Herald

NSW rejects industrial manslaughter laws as 'little more than a catchy title'

Sydney Morning Herald logo Sydney Morning Herald 12/10/2019 22:10:00 Sarah Keoghan

a man wearing a suit and tie: Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson rejected the case for industrial manslaughter laws. © Steven SiewertBetter Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson rejected the case for industrial manslaughter laws. The NSW government has rejected the case for introducing industrial manslaughter laws that are under way in other states, with the responsible minister arguing the laws were "little more than a catchy title". 

It follows an independent review of national workplace safety laws earlier in the year which recommended a uniform offence of industrial manslaughter to make employers liable for gross negligence of their workers.

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said rather than industrial manslaughter he would focus on targeting "risky work practices" in new legislation set to be introduced later this month.

"We've been watching the approach that has been taken in other jurisdictions, and to be frank, it's one thing implementing laws that sound tough, but if you can't bring a successful prosecution then it's little more than a catchy title on a page," he said.

a person wearing a hat and sunglasses: Bradley Hardwick was killed in a collision between two pieces of machinery at a Queensland coal mine. © SuppliedBradley Hardwick was killed in a collision between two pieces of machinery at a Queensland coal mine.

"We shouldn't have to wait until someone dies before action is taken."

Liam O'Brien, assistant secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, said the NSW government's move to reject manslaughter laws was disappointing following a "number of fatalities" in September.

"NSW is now standing out in isolation in terms of being a state that is not prepared to adopt a recommendation that is specifically aimed at reducing the incidence of people that are being killed at work," he said.

Queensland introduced industrial manslaughter laws into its workplace health and safety laws in 2017, with the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Victoria already committing to introducing the laws.

The ACT introduced industrial manslaughter into its criminal code in 2004, but are moving to shift the laws under workplace health and safety.

"It came from a review that the NSW government and the minister, who appointed that reviewer, participated in," Mr O'Brien said. "It's absolutely a necessary reform and it's something the community has been calling really strongly for."

Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Adam Searle said the state government needed to "commit" to special workplace death laws.

"A strong, clear message needs to be sent about how seriously we take the issues of workplace safety and deaths as a society," he said.

"Too many people are dying at work, or from work-related injuries or conditions, most of which are entirely preventable."

Construction union secretary David Noonan said no levels of government could "hold their heads up" on the issue, and called for "effective" manslaughter laws.

"There needs to be highly trained inspectors on site that aren't beholden to trying to turn a blind eye to safety breaches by the developer," he said.

"We think that companies that constantly breach OHS laws or cause the death of a worker should be struck off government tender lists."

Mr Noonan said the model used by QLD was "pretty good" but conceded courts struggled to get "the level of proof necessary to get a conviction".

Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter has launched an investigation into current laws and said he was working with states and territories to form a view on the issue.

"Whilst I understand the impetus towards introducing a new offence it's important, before the Commonwealth concludes a view on the issue, to investigate fully whether established general offences of criminal manslaughter in each jurisdiction and specific criminal offences in work health and safety laws are working as intended," he said.

13. lokakuuta 2019 1:10:00 Categories: RTBF Sydney Morning Herald info - societe

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