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Thursday, 19 February 1987
Page: 282


Senator CROWLEY(3.52) —Madam Acting Deputy President, I think I have it right this time. I would also like to thank my colleague Senator Cooney for so ably drawing the comments I made under the wrong heading into the right area. I found it interesting to listen to Senator Lewis's comments. I think we have to be very thoughtful about costs. We have to ask the questions he poses. The Government has asked those questions. I notice that Senator Lewis said that the cost of the lack of occupational health and safety-that is, the disease and death to workers in this country-is estimated at $6 billion in round figures. I draw his attention to the fact that when Mr Macphee was the Minister in 1982 the estimated figure he gave us then was $4 1/2 billion. In five short years-probably only four-there has been an increase of $1 1/2 billion in that estimate, and that is something on which we ought to focus our minds.

Another question that Senator Lewis asked was why the States and Territories could not address all of this. Firstly, although those State and Territory statutes and requirements are in place, quite clearly they are not sufficient. It is the Government's understanding that some kind of Federal overview of all those bits and pieces, plus the other things that are reported in this very good annual report of the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, is the way in which the Government prefers to go to try to make sense of information throughout the country and to draw together many of those bits and pieces of information to try to improve the very appalling statistics we have of death and disease in this country.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Giles) —Order! The time for the consideration of Government Papers has expired.