AiGroup urges states to embrace national safety laws


The Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) has called on State Parliaments to introduce new harmonized safety laws as a matter of urgency to ensure businesses enjoy improvements to safety and productivity that will flow.

The nationally harmonised Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation due to take effect from January 1, next year.

"All parties, including Ai Group, have put an enormous amount of effort into the harmonisation process recognising that safety should come first rather than compliance with nine acts and all the inefficiencies and costs that entails, said Ai Group Chief Executive Heather Ridout.

Ms Ridout said Safe Work Australia Week being held this week, highlights the critically important issue of making workplaces safer.

“It is another chance to stress the importance of harmonised WHS legislation,” she said.  “Completing the task of streamlining nine different safety acts into one uniform approach will contribute to that safety outcome and yet after two years of negotiations this historic deal is yet to get over the line.

"The NSW, Queensland and ACT Governments have passed the national uniform model, although NSW made some unwelcome changes to allow union prosecution. 

"However, until the other States follow suit and pass the Legislation, a small business operator in NSW who talks to another from Victoria at a national trade show will still get a completely different view about how to manage a specific risk, even if they are in the same industry.

"This is enormously frustrating and confusing, not just to those working across the states, but to any business that takes safety seriously and wants consistent and achievable direction on public expectations of workplace safety.”

The new Bill has passed the Federal Government Lower House and is currently before the SA and Tasmanian parliaments. It is due to be introduced into the Northern Territory parliament before the end of the year.

"Disappointingly, the Victorian and Western Australian Governments are stalling in their passage of the Bill, said Ms Ridout.

“They are unlikely to pass it by 1 January, despite both stating their commitment to harmonization, she said. “If they truly believe a longer transition period is needed, all states have the option of legislating the model Act (which was finalised in 2009) to demonstrate they retain their stated commitment to harmonisation, whilst retaining the option of a later operational date.

"We urge the remaining States to make good their long standing commitment to harmonisation by passing the model WHS legislation in time for the 1st of January operational date to finally achieve a single national standard on workplace safety."

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