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Some of the Australian media on May 8 2019 began quoting the current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, over his concerns about the “green tape” of environmental laws and something called “the expansion of union “red tape””. (Nine Australia’s papers, paywalled) Crikey’s Bernard Keane asks “Does Australia really have a ‘green tape’ crisis?” (paywalled) and proceeds to answer, No we don’t. But where there is Green Tape, the Red Tape of occupational health and safety (OHS) follows.
What Morrison means by “union red tape” is unclear. The newspapers included this quote from him:
I am one of the few freelance writers in Australia who focuses on occupational health and safety (OHS). As a result, my presence is often uncomfortable to those who organise conferences and seminars, even though I operate under the Journalist Code of Ethics. People have had to accept that there is now a media interest in OHS-related events where previously there was very little. This has caused a couple of problems and challenges.
Chatham House Rule
Recently, one seminar organiser suggested I not attend an event because the “Chatham House Rule” was to be applied. They said that as I would not be permitted to report on anything said in the seminar, it may not be worth me attending. This is a corruption of the Chatham House Rule which is best described by Chatham House itself as:
“When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”
All Australian businesses are experiencing disruption. Some are embracing this as Change, but not enough. As occupational health and safety (OHS) is an unavoidable part of running a business, it is being similarly disrupted. So what can one do? I chose to read a short book called “On Disruption”. I purchased it because of the title and I had recently shared the media room at the ALP National Conference with the author, Katherine Murphy. That the book wasn’t about OHS but about the disruption experienced by journalism, newspaper publishing and mainstream media, didn’t bother me as, being a blogger, it should still be of interest either way.
And it was. But what was surprising were the parallels between journalism and OHS. I shouldn’t have been surprised as both are, or claim to be, professions.
ON 22 November 2018, two days before the State Election, the Secretary of the Department of Treasury and Finance released a document called the “Release of costing of election commitment“. Most of the media attention was on the removal of a self-imposed “debt cap” by Treasurer, Tim Pallas, but there is an interesting footnote that seems to involve using some of WorkSafe Victoria’s premium income as a dividend to fund infrastructure.
Attachment A – “Summary of Labor’s 2018 Election Commitments” – lists the following table (figures are in millions):
Footnote 3 says: