Wednesday, 2 December 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Industrial Relations. I refer to the tragic death of delivery driver Chow Khai Shien, who was killed while riding his scooter on a delivery run in Melbourne in October. He dreamed of one day owning a restaurant with his family and working as a chef. Will the government's industrial relations changes include basic protections for workers like Chow Khai Shien so they can work safely?
I thank the member for his question. I had a very productive and informative meeting with Michael Kaine from the Transport Workers Union yesterday and representatives of the types of workers that you're speaking about. One of the things that we discussed in that meeting was the fact—that is acknowledged, I think, inside the union—that occupational health and safety for those drivers is, not just predominantly, but essentially, a state based responsibility.
Opposition members interjecting—
This is how these laws work, and understanding how they work allows you a path through to whatever changes can be made here to ensure greater safety. But there's no doubt that there are issues to be addressed here as the gig economy gets well and truly indentured into the area of deliveries and food deliveries. We had a conversation about that. There's no doubt there that there is a leadership role for the Commonwealth to play, and what I've undertaken to do is to ensure that that issue—as to how these particular sectors of the gig economy are operating under state based occupational health and safety laws—goes right onto the agenda of the relevant ministerial council that deals with those, and that we can use Safe Work Australia to shepherd that process to try and understand exactly how those laws are not operating in the most efficient way with respect to those drivers. There clearly is an issue here, and my deepest sympathies exist for those families and drivers who had these accidents. It was a productive meeting that we had yesterday. There is work to be done here, but we can't lose sight of the fact there is a predominant effect here of state occupational health and safety laws. There is a leadership role for the Commonwealth to play, but the primary response is at a state level.