The Queensland Parliament passed the Work Health and Safety Bill 2011 on 26 May, 2011. The NSW Parliament followed suit on 27 May but in a blow to the new NSW Coalition Government and the Federal Government, the NSW Upper House added amendments that retained unions? rights to prosecute employers in certain cases and restored a limited role to the Industrial Relations Commission.
Heather Ridout, chief executive of Australian Industry Group, congratulated Queensland for leading the way on national OHS reform but warned that in NSW ?any amendments that move away from the model law risk defeating the purpose of the whole exercise?.
Sue-Ern Tan, acting chief executive of the NSW Minerals Council, also welcomed the passage of the legislation but lamented that it was unfortunate that NSW did not have ?a truly harmonised regulatory framework … This is not in keeping with the national laws?.
South Australia is next expected to pass the Bill and the other States and Territories and the Federal Parliament should follow suit in the coming months. The passage of the laws across all tiers of government should enable Australia to operate under a uniform national law for workplace safety, effective from 1 January, 2012.
Sources: Australian Industry Group, Sydney Morning Herald, Manufacturers? Monthly