Industrial manslaughter legislation still alive in Queensland and the ACT

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Industrial manslaughter legislation still alive in Queensland and the ACT

The office of the Queensland Attorney-General, Rod Welford, has denied reports that the Queensland state government has dumped its proposed industrial manslaughter legislation.

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The office of the Queensland Attorney-General, Rod Welford, has denied reports that the Queensland state government has dumped its proposed industrial manslaughter legislation.

A report in today's Australian Financial Review claimed that the Industrial Relations Minister, Gordon Nuttall, said the proposed Bill had been shelved, at least for this term. The claim was confirmed by the Minister's spokeswoman when questioned by WorkplaceInfo today.

But a spokesman for the Attorney-General, who has carriage of the Dangerous Industrial Conduct proposal, said the report was incorrect. 'It's still on the agenda', he said of the legislation. No deadlines for its introduction have been set and consultation with stakeholders was continuing, he said, 'but it's just not a high priority for us'.

Under the new Workplace Health and Safety Amendment Act (see previous WorkplaceOHS story 665/2002) a new penalty for breaches of the legislation resulting in multiple deaths has been created, with a maximum fine for corporations of $750,000 or three year's imprisonment. If a breach by an individual causes multiple deaths the fine would be $150,000 maximum or three years imprisonment.

The maximum penalty for a breach by a corporation resulting in a single death will be increased from $300,000 to $375,000. For individuals a breach that causes death or grievous bodily harm will result in a maximum penalty of $75,000 or two years imprisonment.

These amendments (expected to be passed early next year) do not replace industrial manslaughter legislation that would create a new criminal offence. They are penalties for breaches of the Workplace Health and Safety Act, rather than the death itself - an important technical distinction.

Background

The Attorney-General Rod Welford released a discussion paper into Dangerous Industrial Conduct in 2000 with the intention of introducing a new offence under the Queensland Criminal Code. That paper proposed that a conviction of individuals or corporations would result in a maximum seven years jail and $502,5000 fine for death or grievous bodily harm in the workplace.

The discussion paper, available on the internet, pointed out that between 60 and 100 people died in workplace accidents in Queensland each year. At the time the highest penalty for a fatality had been $40,000.

ACT to get manslaughter bill up this week

The ACT Labor government will introduce its Industrial Manslaughter Bill this coming Thursday (see previous story 374/2002). A spokesperson for the ACT Minister for Industrial Relations, Simon Corbell, said the Bill would be referred to the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs, which will be asked to report back by March 2003.

 

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