The Deputy Prime Minister is walking away from safety consultation at the highest level by refusing to incorporate the Senate amendments in the Safe Work Australia Bill.
An unlikely alliance of the Greens, the Independents and the Coalition says that Julia Gillard is turning her back on workers and industry as well as risking safety outcomes by refusing to accept the Senate amendments.
These amendments are also supported by both the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Council of Trade Unions - representatives of both employer and employee interests.
"The bill in its current form is fundamentally flawed", said Mr Keenan.
"The ACTU, ACCI and Senate are all supporting our amendments but the Minister is choosing to be bloody minded and stubborn."
"Labor has sold out Australian workers and industry in the interests of placating particular state bureaucracies", said Mr Keenan.
"Ms Gillard is refusing to accept that a process that does not seek to actively engage employers and workers in a meaningful way will not produce the safety improvements that are necessary for Australian workplaces", said Senator Siewert.
At this stage the Bill doesn't even contain a set of safety objectives.
We are broadly supportive of a harmonised OH&S system, but Julia Gillard is holding up this process by being unnecessarily stubborn about sensible amendments from all sides of politics.
"These are all very sensible amendments, designed to facilitate a fairer and more effective move towards a National OH&S system, enhancing engagement from the very people within our community who will be affected by the laws - workers and industry", said Senator Xenophon.
The amendments improve the Bill by:
- Outlining the objects of the new body
- Restoring effective levels of representation to employer and employee representatives (social partners)
- Introducing a balanced voting process designed to engage and include the very people in our community affected by safety laws - workers and industry
- Ensuring workers and industry are effectively and ably represented by peak representative groups
- Freeing peak representative groups from Ministerial interference when appointing their own representatives
- Freeing the CEO of Safe Work Australia from excessive Ministerial interference in the management of new body
- Establishing an audit committee to examine the finances and expenditure of Safe Work Australia
The Deputy Prime Minister is hiding behind her alleged commitment to the Inter-Governmental Agreement for Safety as the reason for not adopting the Senate amendments.
We are advised that a number of the State governments have no issue with the proposed amendments. At the very least the Deputy Prime Minister should provide the Parliament with statements from each State Government commenting on the individual amendments.
A closer look at the Agreement also reveals the Minister herself has failed to follow the inter-governmental agreement in a number of areas.
The Deputy Prime Minister has failed to include in the legislation a requirement to provide the Parliament with an annual report on the progress and the achievements of her new Authority.
The Deputy Prime Minister is mistaken if she thinks she can use the Senate as a rubber stamp to get though her flawed legislation. She is also mistaken if she thinks her performance in achieving a harmonised system is beyond scrutiny by the Parliament.
David Magill - 0407 380 470 / 02 6277 4223 (Mr Keenan's office)
Tim Norton - 0418 401 180 (Senator Siewert's office)
Rohan Wenn - 0409 696 531 (Senator Xenophon's office)