For those Australians who are watching the latest political push for Industrial Manslaughter laws, it is important to remember that the activity has a history that extends over a decade. Many of the current arguments for and against have been addressed previously. In August 2004, the earlier iteration of this blog, Safety At Work magazine, printed a special edition on “The Australian Industrial Manslaughter Debate”. Below is an edited version of my Editorial in that magazine. A longer article on the issues raised in that edition is available elsewhere in the SafetyAtWorkBlog.
On October 29 2108, RMIT University and the Safety Institute of Australia conducted a forum on Industrial Manslaughter laws. The mix of presenters offered a respectful discussion on the issue but also illustrated where such proposed legal changes fit. The event was organised and hosted by Gloria Kyriacou-Morosinotto whose introduction listed the questions we should all be asking about the Industrial Manslaughter laws proposed for Victoria.
In 2017 the Queensland Government was advised to prohibit business insurance products that cover the costs associated with financial penalties that may occur after a successful prosecution of a breach of work health and safety (WHS) laws. This recommendation (page 47) was one of only two that were not accepted by the government and which were “referred to the WHS Board” for further consideration (footnote page 3).
On 17 October 2018 the Senate Education and Employment Committee’s report into industrial deaths similarly recommended the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments:
“amend the model WHS laws to make it unlawful to insure against a fine, investigation costs or defence costs where they apply to an alleged breach of WHS legislation;” (Recommendation 21, page xi)
The Senate Committee inquiry into industrial deaths has released its report which, amongst many things, recommends the introduction of Industrial Manslaughter laws. At the end of this year, Marie Boland will present government with the final report of her review into Australia’s work health and safety (WHS) laws.
Before all this, in September, in Perth, Stephanie Mayman told a safety conference in Perth that:
“… I think we’re about to see industrial manslaughter recommended by Marie Boland.”
Boland has heard a lot about Industrial Manslaughter
The Australian Senate inquiry into Industrial Deaths has released its findings in a report called “They never came home—the framework surrounding the prevention, investigation and prosecution of industrial deaths in Australia“. For those who have followed the inquiry, there are few surprises but the report presents big political challenges, particularly as a Federal Election must occur no later than May 2019.
It has been increasingly common for such Senate reports to include, not necessarily, a Minority Report, but an alternative perspective on some issues. Sometimes these reports show dissent in the Committee but more often than not these are statements that are aimed