OHS change

Recently I have been critical of political speeches concerning occupational health and safety (OHS) for being bland, safe, unadventurous and lacking vision. Recently a reader sent me these words:

“In recent years occupational health and safety has become the forgotten element of national workplace relations policy. It’s now time to focus on its importance – to protect lives and livelihoods and to ensure the future strength of Australia’s workers compensation schemes. There’s too much in the balance to let the system decline in effectiveness and increase in cost. Lives are at stake.

So is our economic strength, because occupational health and safety reform is also an important micro-economic reform. The right policies will reduce cost pressures on employers, self-insurers and taxpayers alike and increase profitability, wages and productivity. The best approach is through national cooperation.

By working together, the Commonwealth and the States and Territories can get injuries down, costs down and safety up.”

That extract could easily have been spoken by a political leader in the current election campaign. These words could readily be supported by the major Australian political parties as they address both the pain of workplace death and the economic impacts and opportunities of OHS. Australians have seen next to no discussion of workplace health and safety in this campaign, but OHS occasionally gets discussed in politics.

The extract above is from Julia Gillard’s speech to the national conference of the Australian Council of Trade Unions almost exactly fifteen years ago on May 22, 2008.

Kevin Jones

Categories conference, death, Gillard, government, law, Leadership, OHS, politics, safety, union, workers compensation, workplace

4 thoughts on “OHS change”

  1. Kev, I reckon you’ve forgotten to include the closing component of her speech. In the final few sentences Julia said – recognizing her (then) role as a minister in the (then) Labor federal government – “We are committed to national reform. We’re following through.”

    But since then what we’ve ended up with has been a Clayton’s national reform. While most states jumped on board, there have been a couple of (obvious) laggards.

    So, ‘Commitment to national reform’? ‘Following through’?

    Ummmmm… nope.

    1. Tony, yep the quote is an extract. As the national reform Gillard mentioned has passed and, largely, failed, I didn’t think those words were relevant.

      Over several articles recently I have been suggesting that OHS reform at State and Territory level is perhaps more achievable even though it may take more negotiation and time. I think any further national reform in OHS is highly unlikely.

      1. …. I was having a light-hearted dig, Kev, given there’s the election this weekend.

        That said, I’ll see your “I think any further national reform in OHS is highly unlikely” quip and raise it to “Further national reform in OHS will not occur in our lifetimes.”

        (Also, every bloke I know is looking forward to casting a vote for one reason, and one reason alone. For the chance to gobble down a Democracy Snag (onions ON TOP!) Of course, if you’re like me and subscribe to the progressive’s mantra of ‘Vote early. Vote often’ you can spend the day grazing on hot snags after casting vote after vote, after vote.)

        (Again, I’m having a larf….)

        (Or, am I?)

        1. I will be voting early on Saturday before catching up with an old school friend for coffee on the banks of the Yarra, trying to turn off the election campaign noise. Sausage then serenity. 🙂

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