20/05/2009 - 15:36

CCIWA backs Buswell on OHS changes

20/05/2009 - 15:36


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The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA has thrown its support behind Treasurer Troy Buswell's wariness over plans to align occupational health and safety rules across all states.

CCIWA backs Buswell on OHS changes

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA has thrown its support behind Treasurer Troy Buswell's wariness over plans to align occupational health and safety rules across all states.



Announcement from both the CCIWA and Mr Buswell are below:


The State's peak business organisation, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia, supports the introduction of sound and nationally consistent laws which will help make workplaces safer.

The present system of 10 inconsistent regimes across all States and Territories increases compliance costs and burdensome regulation on small, medium and large businesses across the country, without delivering improved safety.

CCI believes a number of technical issues need to be addressed as a matter of priority.
WA businesses are concerned that nationally consistent laws could place additional burdens on their operations. Under the current proposed arrangements, the maximum penalty will increase from $625,000 to $3 million.

Federal and State governments need to walk a fine line to ensure the proposed changes reduce the regulatory burden across the Nation, whilst maintaining appropriate safety standards.

Western Australia has a sound occupational health and safety (OHS) system which has been developed by government, business and unions. Caution is needed to ensure a nationally harmonised system does not undermine existing WA requirements.

CCI supports the Western Australian Government pursuing several important issues for more detailed consideration in the development of a national system. CCI is pleased to be working with the Federal and State governments to improve workplace safety laws.

Meanwhile, CCI's Director of Health, Safety and Workers' Compensation, Anne Bellamy has been appointed as one of only two National business representatives on the Federal Government's new workplace safety body, Safe Work Australia.

Anne Bellamy brings a wealth of policy and practical experience to the Safe Work Australia Council. Ms Bellamy is international recognised as being a champion of improving workplace safety, and has for many years been a strong voice for business at both State and National levels.

It is critical that workplace safety be taken seriously by all employers and employees. Business and industry must do all it can to look after their most precious resource - their people.

CCI is honoured to play a lead role in the development of nationally consistent policies that will help reduce the risk of people injured at work.




Western Australia will continue to participate in the national harmonisation of Occupational Health and Safety laws through the Workplace Relations Ministerial Council and Safe Work Australia, despite concerns that some elements of the draft legislation erode existing State standards.

Western Australian Commerce Minister Troy Buswell said the next step would be consideration of the draft legislation by the WRMC in October.

"After the legislation is passed by the Federal Parliament, it will then be up to the Western Australian Government to make the final decision on introducing mirror legislation to our State Parliament," Mr Buswell said.

"Minister Gillard can argue that the old State Labor government signed Western Australia up to the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for national OHS harmonisation but, as she and her Federal colleagues well know, a change of Government often means the decisions of the previous administration are reviewed."

The Minister said there was no link between the IGA and COAG funding, despite claims that WA's strong position could have 'potential ramifications for reward payments as established through COAG'.

"COAG funding isn't contingent on this and discussions about Federal-State funding are matters for our Premier and the Prime Minister," he said.

Western Australia has agreed to the vast majority of recommendations and its concerns focus on the introduction of a conciliation concept for resolution of issues; power for Health and Safety Representatives to stop work; reverse onus of proof for discrimination issues; the level of penalties and right of entry.

"The recommendations we have concerns with aren't related to improving safety in the workplace - they simply revolve around process," Mr Buswell said.

The Treasurer said the voting process adopted by the WRMC was also flawed.

"Minister Gillard's adoption of a two-thirds majority voting process as the definition of 'consensus' means there is the potential for future decisions to be politicised - in WA we have worked hard to ensure our tripartite regime eliminates this sort of outcome," he said.



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