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INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS—NATIONAL BROADBAND NETWORK—ASBESTOS CONCERNS

The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Abetz), pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 1299—That the Senate—

 (a) notes:

  (i) that in 2011, the Government passed the Work Health and Safety Bill 2011 which removed the term `control' from the Duties of Care which changed the longstanding principle that responsibility for safety under the Act should be allocated according to what was within reasonable and practicable control,

  (ii) that this principle was established in the 1972 Robens Review which recommended that responsibility for safety be allocated according to reasonable and practicable control and enshrined in the International Labor Organization Convention 155, article 16,

  (iii) that the Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations, Senator Collins, confirmed in the 2011 Senate debate that a principal contractor retains responsibility for all safety down the contractual line with the new person conducting a business or undertaking test,

  (iv) the numerous reports of exposure to asbestos in telecommunications pits while rolling out the National Broadband Network,


  (v) evidence from the Chief Executive Officer of Comcare at Senate estimates that the Commonwealth Government may be liable for these exposures under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, and

  (vi) further evidence that more than half of all asbestos cases since 1996 involving telecommunications pits have occurred in the past 6 weeks;

 (b) calls on the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations to provide the Senate with a detailed report before 27 June 2013 on asbestos in telecommunications pits and the responsibilities of the Government, the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and the National Broadband Network Corporation under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011; and

 (c) supports moves to protect workers by the Government and Telstra, and recognises the longstanding contribution of the trade union movement towards awareness and identification of asbestos.

 Senator Ludlam, by leave, moved the following amendment:

 Omit paragraphs (a) and (b), substitute:

 (a) calls on the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations to provide the Senate with a detailed report before 27 July 2013 on asbestos in telecommunications pits and the responsibilities of Telstra, the Government, the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and the National Broadband Network Corporation under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011; and

Statements by leave: The Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations (Senator Collins) and Senator Abetz, by leave, made statements relating to the motion.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and passed.

Main question, as amended, put and passed.