Thursday, 10 December 2020
I inform the chamber that Senator Bilyk will also sponsor the motion. I, and also on behalf of Senator Bilyk, move:
That the Senate—
(a) recognises that:
(i) since the publication of the Senate inquiry report They never came home–the framework surrounding the prevent ion, investigation and prosecution of industrial deaths in Australia in late 2018, 183 workers have lost their lives in the workplace,
(ii) 183 lives were lost in 2019 which represented the first increase in workplace deaths since John Howard was Prime Minister, and
(iii) as of 19 November 2020, 147 Australian workers have died on the job this year;
(c) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) act on the recommendations of the 'They never came home' report,
(ii) act on the recommendations of the Boland Review, and
(iii) implement a Federal industrial manslaughter regime.
Safe Work Australia's members, which include the ACTU, decided in March this year that they did not want Safe Work Australia to progress any non-COVID-19 related work. The Attorney-General wrote to ministers to restart the process for discussing the review of model work health and safety laws in the second half of 2020. The ACT and Northern Territory governments requested a further deferral due to caretaker periods. The government will be considering its ultimate position on the issues raised in this motion as part of the SWA process, which it is required to do. It should be noted that workplace fatalities have decreased by almost 53 per cent from a peak of three fatalities per 100,000 workers in 2007.
The Greens support this motion. We have long called for federal laws on industrial manslaughter. Our workplace health and safety laws are broken. Employers who do not ensure their workplaces are safe must be held to account and there must be strong deterrents for cutting corners on safety. Action on the recommendations of the reports on industrial deaths should have already been implemented. The government has clearly deprioritised this. The families and loved ones of hundreds of people who have died at work since 2018 deserve to see justice. These workers should not have lost their lives in the first place. Their families and loved ones deserve to see the government take action to make sure that going to work means coming home from work, safe and sound. Everyone has the right to a safe workplace.