Call To Action: Member Input Needed on Surprise Government Review of Safety Laws

The Maritime Union of Australia is calling for urgent input from members for the Abbott Government’s surprise review of  model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Laws.

MUA National Safety Officer Matt Goodwin (Matt.Goodwin@mua.org.au) needs examples of the following by Friday:
• why HSR rights such as cease works are important
• why directors should not be off the hook when it comes to prosecution
• how right of entry saves lives
• why codes of practice matter

Official Government documents say the purpose of the review is so that “governments would investigate ways in which model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws could be improved with a particular focus on reducing red tape”.
 
The MUA knows that reducing red tape is often shorthand for reducing health and safety on the job.
 
Unions have not been invited to provide feedback but the state regulators, the ACTU and state trades and labour councils are gathering public comment.
 
MUA is making a submission through each state regulators and TLC.
 
MUA National Safety Officer Matt Goodwin said the Government’s surprise announcement was of concern to the union and all workers.
 
“The Abbott Government intends to use its control of nearly all state governments except SA to quickly ram through changes to safety laws,” Mr Goodwin said.
 
“This latest attack follows the Government’s blocking of NSCOP and 12 other safety codes, and the announcement that MO32 is on the chopping block. 
 
“Non-harmonised jurisdictions - namely WA and Victoria -  are also in scope of this review.”
 
The Government wants COAG to consider the following issues:
• Ways to reduce the liability of officers (the duty-holder you prosecute when there is a breach)
• Reducing right of entry and the powers of union officials
• Curtailing powers of HSRs – opportunities to reduce/remove, especially cease works
• Codes of Practice – reduce all codes to guidance material
• Remove regulatory burden – looking at regulations – are they too prescriptive

Mr Goodwin said that of all the topics up for review, there is not one question about reducing death and injury in the workplace. 
 
As such, the MUA is formulating an urgent submission and needs the input of members. Please email submissions as a matter of urgency to Matt.Goodwin@mua.org.au

To read the Government's Issue Paper click here.