Scrutiny must be applied to rushed industrial manslaughter provisions

Chris Rodwell

CCIWA Chief Executive Officer

The Workplace Health and Safety Bill before the WA Parliament today was premised on the harmonisation of workplace settings across Australia, and it does take significant steps in that direction. However, the Government’s introduction of new industrial manslaughter offences, particularly the introduction of a low-threshold offence, has occurred without consultation with industry and is a serious concern for West Australian businesses.

WA industry believes in safer workplaces, not criminalising accidents. The Government’s Bill lowers the standard required for prosecutions to be mounted, meaning farmers and small business owners who have not been negligent and have not been reckless, would be exposed to ten-year prison sentences if accidents occur on their sites. This approach is out-of-step with the rest of the country and would make local WA businesses uniquely vulnerable to imprisonment.

Any workplace tragedy is one too many. That’s why CCIWA has supported measures that have made workplaces progressively safer over the years. A cooperative focus by employers and employees on improving workplace safety and better education has been successful in reducing the occurrence of workplace tragedies by 62 per cent since 2007. WA is now among the safest States in which to work.

WA businesses share the Government’s intention of continuing to reduce the occurrence of workplace tragedies, but the Bill before Parliament today will not achieve this. Its provisions run contrary to evidence in other jurisdictions and would undermine hard-won progress.

CCIWA welcomes remarks made in Parliament in the course of debate which identify the need for further examination of these critical provisions. The business community urges all Parliamentarians to refer this Bill to committee, to enable proper consultation and examination to occur.

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