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Bullying Code takes Nanny State to Extreme

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SENATOR THE HON. ERIC ABETZ Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Liberal Senator for Tasmania

28 October 2012

Bullying Code takes Nanny State to Extreme

Safe Work Australia’s revised National Code on Bullying makes minor improvements on its previous position, but takes the nanny state to the extreme.

The Code, a part of Labor’s harmonisation of OH&S laws, will be admissible in court as the standard. The code lists "not providing enough work" as a form of "indirect bullying", along with constantly changing deadlines or setting timelines that are difficult to achieve. The Code even prohibits "eye-rolling responses" that might "diminish a person's dignity".

“Bulling in the workplace is to be condemned, but this over-zealous reaction by Safe Work Australia will not help anyone. Instead it will tie employees and their employers down in red tape,” Senator Abetz said today.

“This Code reads like something out of the socialist playbook whereby personal responsibility is thrown out the window and everyone is bound in bubble wrap.”

“This is all well and good in theory, but the reality is that it simply will not work in 96% of Australian businesses, namely small businesses. Once again, bureaucrats sitting in Canberra without any real-world experience have spent thousands of dollars developing a Code that will not address the problem and indeed will make matters worse.”

“At Senate Estimates, Departmental officials confirmed that where an employer unintentionally bullies an employee, and the employee doesn't consider it to be bullying but another “sensitive” employee has observed this and he actually interprets this behaviour as bullying - albeit it was unintentional and it wasn't taken as bullying - the third party would be entitled to compensation, counselling and all the rest.”

“Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten must step in and inject some common sense into this Code before it is foisted onto employees and their employers,” Senator Abetz concluded.

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