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Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Page: 2629


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (15:03): I would like to thank the member for Fowler for his question. He is interested in Australian workplaces. He knows that 48,000 of his constituents are going to get an increase in superannuation courtesy of this government.

In terms of the question he asked me about workplace safety, it is not appropriate that anyone in Australia should go to work and not be able to come home. It is not appropriate that this issue of workplace safety is just consigned as a state issue or an employer or a union issue. It is about time that workplace safety was an issue for the parliament of Australia. In fact, today we have released reports from Safe Work Australia, one tabling the number of workplace fatalities for the 2009-10 year. In 2009-10, 216 people went to work and did not come home.

I tabled another report about the cost of workplace injuries in Australia. The report states that the cost of Australian workplace injuries is $60 billion. That number does not begin to capture the ripple effect of death or serious injury—the families, the people who will not have a father or mother, or the brother or sister who is no longer with us. There is the upheaval to the workplace and to the workmates. Then there is the cost. It is salutary to remember that something like 3,000 people have died at work in the last seven years. Also, it is most likely that in the same time another 14,000 Australians have died from industrial diseases. That is why this place needs to deal with some of the issues of safety.

One of the most important issues to deal with safety is what happens on Australia's roads. That is why the Road Safety Remuneration Bill 2011, which is in front of this House, should be supported by all members. There were something like 567 deaths in the last seven years in truck related fatalities—95 bystanders, 30 pedestrians hit by trucks; and there are 1,000 serious injuries every year. This bill does not pretend that by passing the bill all of these truck fatalities and injuries will suddenly and miraculously cease. But it does recognise the causes of truck fatalities: speeding; the long shifts; the late shifts; and the inexperienced drivers due to the high turnover in the industry because people simply cannot make a living in the industry.

Our bill proposes to make Australia's roads safe. Even if some opposite just want to listen to the interests of those who do not want to pay any more to Australia's truck drivers, even if those opposite say that there is not a direct link between road fatalities and the way people are remunerated, I know that my family is on the roads of Australia and so are yours. (Time expired)