Bill exempts federal employers from manslaughter fines, jail

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Bill exempts federal employers from manslaughter fines, jail

Commonwealth employers would be excluded from the operations of the ACT Government’s new industrial manslaughter laws if a Bill tabled in Parliament this morning gets up.

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Commonwealth employers would be excluded from the operations of the ACT Government’s new industrial manslaughter laws if a Bill tabled in Parliament this morning gets up.

Federal Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, introduced the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Amendment (Promoting Safer Workplaces) Bill 2004into the House of Representatives this morning, saying the ACT laws were ‘regressive’.

It would specifically exclude that legislation from Commonwealth workplaces, with the Government arguing that creating industrial manslaughter offences under general criminal law was inconsistent with prevention, and acted more as a punishment after the event.

The Bill would also exclude all Federal Government workplaces from any future industrial manslaughter laws to be enacted by State or Territory governments.

The ACT’s Crimes (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Act 2003 commenced on 1 March. The first legislation of its kind in Australia, it provides for criminal penalties of up to 25 years’ jail and $250,000 in fines for individuals who are found to have recklessly or negligently caused a worker’s death, and up to $5million in fines for a corporation.

A spokesperson for Shadow IR Minister Craig Emerson told WorkplaceInfo he had initial concerns about the Howard Government ‘again trying to override State laws’, and was also concerned about inequities arising between the public and private sectors.

He said he would consult with his colleagues and study the details of the Bill before commenting further.

ACT IR Minister, Katy Gallagher, was in Question Time at the time of publication, and was unable to comment.

Meanwhile, the Workplace Relations Amendment (Award Simplification) Bill 2002 passed through the House of Representatives today, despite Labor opposition.

It allows for awards to be stripped back to only 15 allowable matters, removing skill-based career paths, bonuses, long service leave, notice of termination and jury service from the list (see previous story).

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