The Australian Government faces another hurdle in its strategy for OHS harmonisation with another State Government, Victoria, falling to the conservative Liberal /National party coalition. OHS has hardly been mentioned in the state election campaign as all of the reform action is at a national level but, as Mark Skulley reports in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on 29 November 2010 (not available online):
“…the Coalition will be more critical of the state’s militant unions, particularly when it comes to major infrastructure projects, and take a more sceptical line on the Gillard government’s push for a national occupational health and safety regime.”
A Skulley article in the 30 November 2010 AFR indicates that the Australian Council of Trade Unions has received a strategy document that has “urged unions to become more independent of the ALP [Australian labour party]..”
As the union movement is the strongest and loudest advocate for occupational health and safety in Australia, union policies and strategies should be of great interest to the OHS profession.
Until Prime Minister Gillard makes her next statement, or mention, of OHS legal reform publicly, the harmonisation process is in serious limbo. This on the eve of the release of draft OHS regulations and codes of practice.