Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Rob Lucas said today the Labor Government needed immediately to delay consideration of controversial industrial safety legislation, which former Minister Bernard Finnigan had been trying to rush through Parliament.
Mr Finnigan introduced this legislation on 7 April and had advised Members it was a priority for debate in the next sitting week.
“Mr Finnigan and the Labor Government have again demonstrated how out of touch they are as they have ignored increasing opposition to the bill and related regulations from a number of industry groups,” Mr Lucas said.
“These groups want debate on the bill delayed so significant amendments can be considered.
“The HIA (Housing Industry Association) has estimated the impact of the bill and associated regulations will lead to a $15,000 increase in the cost of a single story trussed roof dwelling and $22,000 for a two story dwelling.
“Proposed regulations will require all building sites to be fenced, greater use of scaffolding and giving five days prior notice to SafeWork SA before digging a trench deeper than 1.5m. One building company has advised they have more than 500 separate building sites, which would need to be fenced.
“These cost increases would be a massive blow to housing affordability in SA and would make it almost impossible for many young SA families struggling to buy their first home.
“A number of industry groups and prominent SA building companies agree with the HIA view and support its calls for delay and amendments to the bill and regulations. For example Business SA have advised they had already unsuccessfully called on the Government to delay consideration of the bill.
“This bill is a ‘full frontal assault’ on the sub-contracting sector in SA, which has been a key factor in ensuring competitive pricing in the house construction sector in SA. The bill also increases red tape for builders as well as the power of unions.
“Even the Government has conceded that the industrial safety record in SA has outperformed most other states and territories and therefore a ‘one size fits all’ bill based on problems in the eastern states is hard to justify for SA.
“Mr. Finnigan has argued that his proposed bill must be passed, as it is part of a national agreement to be introduced into all Australian Parliaments including the Federal Parliament.
“However industry groups have indicated that both the West Australian and Victorian Governments are going to amend the ‘supposedly agreed bill’ and the Tasmanian Government is also likely to do so as well.
“If this is the case it ‘blows out of the water’ the Minister’s argument that the bill shouldn’t be amended.
“The Labor Government needs to explain why this legislation needs to be rushed especially as the Federal Parliament has yet to debate the bill and there is still no final approved form of almost 600 pages of regulations.
“Whilst the Liberal Party consults widely about possible amendments it will seek the agreement of minor parties and independents to delay debate on the bill in the Legislative Council.
“Hopefully the new Industrial Relations Minister Pat Conlon will be more willing than Mr Finnigan to listen to some of the increasing opposition to the bill.”