OHS backflip shows NSW Labor ‘a dreadful government’: business

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OHS backflip shows NSW Labor ‘a dreadful government’: business

A leading NSW business organisation has described Premier Kristina Keneally’s decision to renege on an agreement for harmonised OHS laws as showing ‘a dreadful government going from bad to worse’.

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A leading NSW business organisation has described Premier Kristina Keneally’s decision to renege on an agreement for harmonised OHS laws as showing ‘a dreadful government going from bad to worse’.
 
Keneally wants the state’s current reverse onus of proof laws and union right to prosecute employers maintained in any new national OHS system. All states except Western Australia had agreed to support the new national harmonised OHS laws.
 
Final disgrace
 
NSW Business Chamber said Keneally’s other demand for exemption from the fair work laws for major state construction projects was the ‘final disgrace’.
 
‘Just when you think the NSW Government can’t do anything more to damage the interests of NSW, along comes today’s announcement’, said Stephen Cartwright, CEO of NSWBC. 
 
‘This is a Government that knows it is in its dying days and that doesn’t care about its legacy. Nor do they care about the broader population that they are truly meant to serve.’
 
‘It appears the Premier is pursuing a “scorched earth” policy that will see the very worst of government decisions made over the next 163 days as the unions, donors and special interest groups line up for their share of the spoils.’
 
Vandalism
 
‘For the NSW Government to thumb its nose at Federal OH&S harmonisation after years of hard work reaching agreement is vandalism of the worst kind. Business is angry, but I suspect the Prime Minister is absolutely furious.’ 
 
Cartwright said that while business might at times have disagreements with the Prime Minister, no one can claim she is not interested in workplace safety and the best safety outcomes. 
 
‘The High Court recently condemned the same features of the current NSW OH&S system that the Premier lauded today,’ he said.
 
Great harm
 
‘These announcements will do great harm to business confidence in this State. We now know that these last months will be about selling off the silverware, signing up to special deals, and making life as difficult as possible for a new Government.’
 
‘Unfortunately, the real losers in this are the taxpayers, businesses and citizens of NSW.’
 
‘For the 300,000 small and large businesses that have to deal with the decisions of this Government every day, 26 March 2011 [election day] can’t come quick enough’. 
 
Protect family time
 
Meanwhile, the The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) said Keneally’s decision to declare Easter Sunday a public holiday will further protect family and community time.
 
SDA NSW branch secretary Gerard Dwyer said it‘s an announcement that balances work, family time and community interests. 
 
Restore balance
 
‘Since 1991 there has been a 17% increase in trading hours in NSW,’ he said. 
 
‘Decisions like these help restore some balance.’  
 
Dwyer said declaring Easter Sunday a public holiday will achieve three things: 
  • ‘It will give retail workers a right to a 4 day break at Easter like other NSW workers, helping to achieve some work/life balance; 
  • It will fix a fair rate of pay for the day, so that those that work on this special day are properly compensated; 
  • It gives proper recognition to one of the significant days in the Australian community, a day when families, faith groups and communities come together.’

 

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