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Gillard's courage of convictions in tatters

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Senator Eric Abetz 

Liberal Senator for Tasmania 

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate 

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations 

Gillard’s Courage of Convictions in Tatters

Monday, 30 May 2011 10:54

One of Julia Gillard’s key reforms, the ‘harmonisation’ of OHS laws to apply in the same way

across the country, is in tatters after one of its key elements was rejected by the union

dominated Labor Party in NSW.

During the leaders debate at the NPC (date), Gillard said:

I think it's very important that when you lead, that you do show the courage of your

convictions and you lead…..Perhaps less transparent to the Australian people: getting new

occupational health and safety laws. Laws around the country. Businesses have been

complaining for 30 years that they have different obligations in different states and at the same

time not every individual worker had the same safety standards. Now, I have delivered that.

But during evidence to a Senate Estimates Committee today, it was confirmed that the laws in

NSW would be different to the rest of Australia. This means that a business in Albury would have

to apply a different set of laws to a business in Wodonga.

Interestingly, the change pushed by Unions NSW and NSW Labor retained the rights of unions

to prosecute employers and be eligible to receive part of the penalty for a successful


Senator Abetz said “There were two major OHS issues that have hamstrung the NSW economy

for many years - the right of unions to prosecute and the reverse onus of proof - two provisions

that have actively damaged the NSW economy and acted as a disincentive to investment in that


“It is interesting that the right of unions to prosecute is now back after an unholy alliance of

Labor/Greens and Minor Party members blocked a Coalition bill to bring in the NSW OH&S laws,

smashing Julia Gillard’s proudest reform.”

“Federal Labor must ensure that this provision is not replicated in other states, to save them

from the onerous conditions that have been the noose around the NSW business community for

many years.”

“The fact that federal Labor can’t get NSW Labor to agree speaks volumes for Ms Gillard’s

courage of convictions, or their contempt for her,” Senator Abetz said.