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Work Health and Safety (Representative Assistance) Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading

(Continued from 12 April 2017)

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (20:29): I rise to make a brief contribution to the bill. In her second reading speech, the Hon. Tammy Franks very heavily emphasised that one of the main drivers for this bill was to allow unions onto worksites. However, as a result of the recent Full Federal Court decision against Mick Powell, the unions have received a very clear message that they are not allowed to enter worksites, using section 68 of the act. I understand that as a result of this, the intention of the bill has now changed from when it was originally introduced in April and the focus is now just on allowing experts on site to assist health and safety representatives with safety issues.

I am very supportive of improving worker safety; however, concerns have been expressed to me that this is merely a backdoor way for the unions to gain access to worksites when they are not meant to be there. I understand these concerns. However, I believe that the prospect of improvements to worker safety outweighs the potential threat that these changes will be exploited by the unions.

The circumstance of a person going to work and failing to return home because they have been killed at a worksite is absolutely unacceptable. Unfortunately, it does happen, so I will do what I can in my role as a legislator to try to improve this. In saying this, I would still appreciate, for the record, confirmation from the Hon. Tammy Franks that the intention of this bill is to allow experts on site to assist the health and safety representatives rather than providing a mechanism to allow unions on site.