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Thursday, 24 November 2011
Page: 9591


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (VictoriaParliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations) (20:27): I am happy to respond on a range of issues. My understanding of where we were just ahead of Senator Macdonald's contri¬≠bution was on the last amendment and we were close to wrapping up—not to put words in Senator Abetz mouth. Senator Macdonald, in relation to your question about my preparedness for next week, I will simply refer that to the Manager of Government Business. It is not my role in this bill to talk about ongoing procedures of the chamber. I am happy to relay your question to Senator Ludwig.

Going back to the issues of substance remaining in this matter, one issue Senator Abetz was on before we went to Senator Macdonald was still about the evaluation of training providers. I am not in a position to personally gauge how effective the evaluation was of the doctor's program. Certainly any training program can gather some level of endorsement. How effective the actual evaluation was is not knowledge I hold at the moment but I must admit I would have some level of confidence in the SRCC's evaluation process, if they did indeed establish one. So the information I gave you about a survey which had been conducted about employee preferences in how training is delivered I suspect is probably an evaluation which was specifically targeted at determining what was the appropriate training which should be part of the guidelines. That is not to say that the doctor referred to has not delivered competent training. I must admit my impressions of the value of online workplace training that our own employees receive has not been great. I have not been enthralled with the quality of the online training courses in this particular space from my own experience as an employer. But until such time as I could compare the evaluation methods to which you refer, or indeed drill further into the quality of the SRCC's training and the evaluations of this doctor, I am not in a position to comment further.

The one remaining matter, if Senator Abetz is happy to move onto that, is the question about the differential between the ABCC and the work health and safety regulator powers to compel production of information. I can indicate that both the current Australian Building and Construction Commissioner and the proposed work health safety regulator can compel individuals to provide information. However, in both instances this is subject to the use of derivative use immunity, which prevents that information from being used against the individual, so my impression earlier was not quite accurate. There are areas of difference, but I will come to those in a moment.

Under the current BCII Act the power to compel the person to attend an interview can be used as a power of first rather than last resort, although on this point it is important to note that the current commissioner does, as a matter of practice, exhaust all other avenues of information gathering before using these powers. Under the Work Health and Safety Bill the power to compel a person to attend an interview can only be used as a last resort. The current BCII bill which is before the House also seeks to ensure that this power is only used as a last resort. The current BCII bill will also introduce a range of other safeguards with respect to coercive powers. These differ from the Work Health and Safety Bill, and reflect the fact that the maximum penalty for noncompliance under the BCII legislation is six months imprisonment. The Work Health and Safety Bill does not impose custodial sentences for noncompliance in relation to information-gathering powers.