Resumed from 23 September. The Deputy Chair of Committees (Hon Dr Steve Thomas) in the chair; Hon Sue Ellery (Leader of the House) in charge of the bill.

Comments and speeches by various members

Clause 223: Which decisions are reviewable — Hon ALISON XAMON: I move —

Page 146, after line 9, the table after item 5 — To insert —

5A. Section 155A(6)(b) (decision to withhold approval of legal practitioner on other reasonable grounds).   The witness.

This is a sensible amendment. It will ensure that if a regulator deprives a witness of their choice of lawyer, this is one of the matters that will be reviewable.

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN: We think that this amendment does identify a need, and we are happy to support it.

Hon NICK GOIRAN: The opposition agrees. We thank Hon Alison Xamon for moving this amendment.

Amendment put and passed.

Comments and speeches by various members

Clause 272A: No insurance or other indemnities against fines —

Hon RICK MAZZA: I have some concerns about this clause and having a blanket prohibition over insurance indemnities. As I said in the second reading debate, I understand that charges under clause 30A are now a category 1 offence and should not be covered by insurance. I imagine that most underwriting policies would not respond to a claim for those types of offences. However, there are other offences in the bill for which there may be financial penalties. In some cases, the offences might not be specifically the fault of the PCBU. Most businesses have the ability to insure against risk. In this case, I think it is quite clear that we do not want insurance to cover issues of manslaughter. With that, I move —

Page 177, line 21 — To delete “an offence against this Act.” and substitute — a crime under section 30A or a Category 1 offence.

Comments and speeches by various members

Hon ALISON XAMON: I rise to indicate that the Greens will not support this amendment for two reasons. Firstly, far too often we see that companies often incorporate the fact that they are likely to get insurance payouts as part of their business model. It becomes a disincentive for companies or PCBUs to ensure that they are undertaking safe work practices. That is the purpose of this Work Health and Safety Bill. We hope we will never have to penalise anyone, because there is enough incentive for people to ensure they have safe workplaces. The second reason is that when companies choose to abuse the insurance provisions to incorporate them as part of their business model, all the other PCBUs who are doing the right thing get hit with higher rates. Overall, it is not a good balance to strike, we do not want to make it too easy for people to create unsafe workplaces from a financial perspective and we do not want good worksites to be penalised.

Comments and speeches by various members

Progress reported and leave granted to sit again, pursuant to standing orders.


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