House debates

Monday, 7 December 2020

Statements by Members

Workplace Relations

1:45 pm

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak about the need for Australia to have industrial manslaughter laws right across the country. I was reminded of the importance of this—it was a policy we took to the last election—when I had the opportunity to meet with Linda Ralls. This will be the 10th Christmas that she and her daughter Bobbi won't have Craig at the table. Craig was a qualified boilermaker working as a maintenance fitter and he was killed at work in 2011.

Families don't recover from these losses. Last year, 183 Australians were killed at their workplace—that's an increase of 37 deaths since 2018. It's the first increase since 2007—that's too many funerals, too many lost friends and too many empty chairs at the Christmas table. Every adult should have the right to return home as safely as they went to work, and every child should have the right to see mum and dad come home into the driveway at the end of their shift.

It is now time to have these industrial manslaughter laws. It has been a long journey but now various state and territory jurisdictions have these laws in place. The government has had the Boland review for two years. The review has called for the harmonisation of industrial manslaughter laws. Once upon a time, the theory was that the only way a crime could be committed is if you had intent and act combined, but when you are so recklessly indifferent to the safety of your workers, that qualifies as a crime in my book.