Charges laid over teenager’s death long overdue: Greens

Greens spokesperson for Worker Safety and Industrial Relations  the Hon Alison Xamon MLC has expressed dismay over the length of time it has taken for WorkSafe to lay charges over the death of teenage construction worker Wesley Ballantine.

“It is now two and a half years since Wesley died at work.  It has taken an unacceptable amount of time for these charges to be laid,” she said.

“There may still be a case for the police to also investigate Wesley’s death further.

“I call on the Government to take immediate action to increase penalties and pursue industrial manslaughter laws.

“Ms Xamon has been supportive of calls from Wesley Ballantine’s mother, Regan Ballantine, to improve worker safety laws.

“We must acknowledge the utmost seriousness of what the Ballantine family has been through.  The sudden death of a loved one is absolutely devastating and changes the course of many lives,” Ms Xamon said.

“Losing a family member to a fatal accident in the workplace adds to the complexity of the grieving process it is therefore vital that we do all we can to reduce families’ burden so far as possible.  There are far too many families that have gone through the same harrowing struggle for justice that Regan Ballantine has endured.

Ms Xamon said her industrial manslaughter bill, which is currently before the Parliament awaiting debate, would make senior managers personally responsible if they made a decision, which knowingly created an unsafe workplace, and where that decision led to a death.

She said by placing the onus on companies and senior officers, workers’ safety could be improved.

“Furthermore, It is imperative that Industrial Manslaughter is contained in the Criminal Code rather than in occupational safety and health legislation.  Industrial manslaughter must be treated like any other form of manslaughter. 

“Workplace laws should be fair and be effective at protecting all workers from unsafe conditions,” Ms Xamon said.