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Wednesday, 29 April 1987
Page: 1980

Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware of the new code of practice on manual handling issued by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission which, if implemented, would require two men to operate a chainsaw, four ambulance officers to carry a stretcher and two farmhands to lift a bale of hay? Is he also aware that, under the ludicrous nature of the draft code, a bag of cement, a 20-litre paint drum, an empty beer keg, a bag of fertiliser, a tradesman's tool box, a crate of fish and a bag of explosives cannot be lifted unaided? Does he realise that, if implemented, the code would increase unemployment by imposing intolerable cost burdens on Australian industry? Is it possible for the Government to take the necessary action which would ensure that the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission changes the proposals so that the code will not be declared practice because, as I understand it, the Commission can declare this code of practice and bring it into effect by regulation and not by legislation?

Senator WALSH —I am aware of the proposed code of practice referred to. It has been circulated as a discussion paper. In my view it is about as absurd as the Bradfield scheme which Senator Bjelke-Petersen's husband, I noted in today's Bulletin, is supporting. The Department of Finance, without prior consultation with me, has written and sent to the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission a critique of the scheme, which I have read. I endorse the critique with this one reservation: It understates the case. I will be writing to my colleague Mr Willis to let him know my view on this matter.