The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC

The Hon

Rob Lucas MLC

Treasurer

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Work Safety Bill should be amended and delayed

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Liberal Party will move to delay the final vote on the Work, Health and Safety Bill and also move significant amendments to the bill.

There is growing opposition to Labor’s proposed bill from industry and business organisations such as Business SA, Master Builders Association, Housing Industry Association, Motor Trade Association, Self Insurers of SA and the Australian Hotels Association.

“The Liberal Opposition believes this bill is a massive full frontal assault on subcontractors and small business in SA which will lead to significant increases in house prices,” Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Rob Lucas said.

“For example, the HIA have estimated the new laws will increase costs by $12,000 for a single story construction and approximately $20,000 for a double story construction.

“Furthermore, Government claims that this model bill will achieve harmonised legislation are incorrect. The bill has already been amended in New South Wales and will be amended in Western Australia. In addition, it is possible that amendments might also be moved in Victoria and Tasmania.”

Amendments to be moved by the Liberal Opposition include:

• Protecting subcontractors and small businesses by ensuring business is only held responsible for those actions they control
• Stopping any increase in the power of unions to enter work sites
• Stopping any increase in powers of health and safety representatives to bring wider groups of people onto work sites
• Retaining the right to silence to prevent self-incrimination

The Bill will lead to a significant increase in Union power on industrial work sites in SA. Under Labor’s bill, Unions will have the power to enter work sites even where they don’t have any members there.

Unions would also have the power with the support of some of the workers on the work site to close down work on that site.

“This is yet another example where this Labor Government is doing the bidding of its powerful Union Bosses,” Mr Lucas said.

“However, the prospects of the new national laws being operational by 1 January 2012 are slim given the legislation has not even been introduced into the Victorian, Western Australian and Tasmanian parliaments.

“It also makes no sense to be rushing this legislation through Parliament when many of the Codes of Practice are still to be finalised and released. The Liberal Opposition believes any possible new national laws should be delayed until 1 July 2012 or possibly even 1 January 2013.

“Whilst the Labor Government under Mr Rann or Mr Weatherill is quite happy to increase the power of unions in these areas, there is no evidence to indicate it will improve work safety outcomes on work sites.”
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