Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2023

Matters of Urgency

Workplace Safety: Engineered Stone Industry

5:42 pm

Photo of David PocockDavid Pocock (ACT, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

As Senator Barbara Pocock said, on 16 August, Safe Work Australia handed down their unambiguous decision: engineered stone is killing Australians, and these deaths are entirely preventable. What we need is some political will and some political courage to make this happen. The government can and must act now to ban engineered stone in Australia, including a full import ban. It's rather ironic that two of the senators the government accuses of not caring about workers by taking the time to look through the IR bill are the part of the crossbench pushing the government to put workers first here. Act now.

On 14 November, my crossbench colleagues and I wrote to ministers calling on them to take this one simple action to save lives. So far, we've had one response, from the Tasmanian government. I'd like to thank Minister Ogilvie for her response and for her government's support for a prohibition on engineered stone. We wrote to nine ministers, and we've received one response. Eight of those ministers are from Labor governments. We've heard from the Liberal government. Bunnings and Ikea have acted on this. What are we waiting for, as politicians, as legislators—as decision-makers? How many more young Australians need to lose their lives? We've surely learnt from the tragedy of asbestos. We now have the data. We have the recommendation. It's time to act. I thank the Greens for bringing forward this motion. I thank the crossbench for their work on this. And I call on the federal Labor government to show leadership with an import ban and to work with states to ban engineered stone across the country.

Question agreed to.


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