Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Workplace Relations, received a dorothy-dix question on 16 October 2008 (pages 52-53) concerning OHS harmonisation and the creation of SafeWork Australia. Sadly, the good points the Minister made were overshadowed by political point-scoring at the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull. It is still early days for the Labor Government in Parliament and Minister Gillard is one of the top parliamentary performers. It is disappointing she did not use her full six minutes to give the issue the prominence it deserved or needed.
The nuggets of information she provided, prior to party politics interfering, were
- harmonisation will help “39,000 businesses that operate across state boundaries”;
- “300 Australians are killed at work each year”;
- “over 140,000 Australians are injured at work each year”;
- these deaths and injuries are “costing the economy $34 billion” (presumably) each year.
The report of the inquiry into model OHS laws is due to release its interim report in October 2008 with the final report being presented to government in late-January or early-February 2009.