Further to yesterday’s blog post that mentioned Australia’s Minister for Workplace Relations, Chris Evans, it is worth noting his new media release (not yet available online) in support of the 2011 Safe Work Australia Week.
On 23 October 2011, Minister Evans said all the “right” things:
“National Safe Work Australia Week, an annual initiative of Safe Work Australia, is an opportunity for all Australians to think about how to improve work health and safety in their workplace and in their community,” Senator Evans said. “Each and every worker deserves to go to work each day and return home safely each night.”
Senator Evans said workers deserve the same decent safety standards across Australia.
“This is why the Gillard Government is committed to harmonising Occupational Health and Safety laws by January 2012,” Senator Evans said. “The new laws will cut red tape and ensure that all workers have equal protections regardless of where they live and work. They will apply not only to employees, but also to contractors and their employees, subcontractors, labour hire workers, apprentices and volunteers. These reforms are vitally important for the safety of employees in an increasingly mobile labour force.”
Significantly, the continued refusals by Western Australia and Victoria to implement the OHS reforms prior to 1 January 2011 are not mentioned but it is understandable for the Minister to try to set the positive tone of Safe Work Australia Week.
On 21 October 2011, the Chair of Safe Work Australia, Tom Phillips, fails to mention OHS harmonisation in his media release which is his prerogative but it would have been better to address the elephant in the room – OHS harmonisation.
The harmonisation deadline is only a couple of months away and it would have been good to see some urgency on the issue from this prominent speakers.