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Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5823

Senator ABETZ (7:41 PM) —I thank the minister for those answers. We now have our running sheet and I think we can go to moving the amendments. I do not want to muck up the order of the amendments. In fact, one of the opposition amendments is the first one on the running sheet. The opposition believes that, for many pieces of legislation, it is indeed beneficial to consider what the objects of the legislation actually ought to be. I think it provides guidance to all those who need to operate within and under the legislation. In those circumstances, one wonders why there was not an objects provision in this particular legislation. What we as an opposition are proposing is an objects clause which is relatively simple but which makes that point very well. I move opposition amendment (1) on sheet 5611:

(1)    Page 5 (after line 6), after clause 5, insert:

5A   Objects

                  The objects of the establishment of Safe Work Australia are, through a partnership of governments, employers and employees, to lead and coordinate national efforts to:

              (a)    prevent workplace death, injury and disease; and

              (b)    harmonise occupational health and safety laws and associated regulations and codes of practice; and

              (c)    improve national worker’s compensation arrangements.

I would have thought that this amendment should not provide any difficulties to the government. I note that Senator Xenophon has previously circulated a similar amendment. In discussions with Senator Xenophon, he has indicated that he would be withdrawing his proposed amendment. He has indicated—at least privately to me—his support for the coalition’s amendment, which is slightly more extensive. He had two subparagraphs and the coalition is proposing three. I submit to the minister and the government that there should not be any difficulty with or objection to this amendment. I will limit my comments, at this stage, subject to what the minister’s response might be.