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Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5833


Senator SIEWERT (8:37 PM) —I move Greens amendment (1) on sheet 5593:

(1)    Clause 26, page 16 (lines 18 to 19), omit “Division 4 allows the Ministerial Council to direct Safe Work Australia to amend either of the final plans.”

This amendment relates to strategic and operational plans. As I articulated in my contribution to the second reading debate, this legislation allows the ministerial council to direct changes to strategic and operational plans of Safe Work Australia. We do not believe it is appropriate that the ministerial council should be able to directly alter strategic and operational plans.

The members of the ministerial council will have representation on Safe Work Australia and will be participating in the formulation of these plans. We believe that it is unnecessary for the Commonwealth, states and territories to have direct interference in these plans. We believe that it undermines both the independence and the tripartite nature of Safe Work Australia.

This amendment should be read in conjunction with Greens amendment (2), which I will move later. It also deals with strategic and operational plans and their finalisation. Basically, it takes out division 4, which allows the ministerial council to direct Safe Work Australia to amend either of the final plans. As I said, we do not believe it is appropriate to allow the ministerial council this level of interference in the operation of SWA. As I said, it undermines both the independence and tripartite approach of SWA. I can already hear the minister thinking aloud that this amendment is contrary to the agreement that was made under the IGA. The same argument stands for me, and that is that the Commonwealth, states and territories have given themselves a nice little cosy arrangement whereby, even if these matters are approved by their representatives, the ministerial council can knock them off. We do not believe that that is an appropriate way to run occupational health and safety in this country and, therefore, we put this amendment to the chamber.