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Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5836

Senator SIEWERT (8:52 PM) —I find it a strange point that the government is not asking the Senate to be a rubber stamp but wants us to approve this legislation unamended. They want us to review the legislation and find the problems but not do anything about them. I reiterate that the Greens support strong, effective OH&S laws in this country and support a strong body to oversight those laws. We also very strongly support a true tripartite approach. This particular legislation puts a group in that so-called tripartite arrangement above the other two groups. Already the legislation gives that group stronger voting rights. But above all, it then gives the ministerial council the ability to reject, send back or make alterations to the strategic and operational plans outside the approval process. We do not believe that is good governance. We do not believe that that is an effective way for this tripartite body to operate, when all the good thoughts and processes around OH&S show that you have to have a good, strong tripartite approach to these issues.

It is deeply concerning to me that we have been presented with a piece of legislation, which the government has agreed with the states and territories, that we are not to do anything with even when we see faults and problems with it. I can see why the government feels like it has its hands tied behind its back, but that is the way it is. We do not think this is as good as it could be, so we are trying to amend it to make it better. That is what I see as the job of the Senate and that is what I see as my job on this issue and that is what we are doing. You will have to go back and explain to the states that you could not con the Senate into it!

Senator Ludwig —I am sure they will read my transcript.