The building and construction industry has been ambushed by the State Government’s move to introduce a new offence of “negligence causing death.”
Master Builders director construction policy Corlia Roos said she was shocked and disappointed with the lack of consultation on this decision.
“We are very surprised with this decision because we were in the middle of participating in the review process
with the government’s Independent Reviewer Tim Lyons – former deputy secretary of the ACTU,” Ms Roos said.
Curiously, the government says the new law was Mr Lyons’ recommendation. Yet in emailed correspondence to Master Builders, Mr Lyons himself says that it was the minister who pushed for the creation of this offence.
He goes on to state that there are already “long-established positions in relation to industrial manslaughter.”
The timing of the government’s announcement is also curious considering the CFMEU have organised a rally to introduce industrial manslaughter laws for Tuesday (May 23).
Ms Roos said there were absolutely no gaps in the current penalty system.
This is because employers can already be penalised for workplace deaths under three categories of Workplace Health and Safety offences (which include jail time), and be charged with manslaughter under the criminal code.
“Increasing penalties, whether monetary or otherwise is not going to result in less deaths. Extra penalties are not a deterrent to non-compliance and will not stop people getting injured or killed,” Ms Roos said.
“The only things that will improve safety in workplaces are better policing of the current laws, improved education, and more practical safety outcomes.”
A person has already been charged for manslaughter in the Eagle Farm case and Master Builders fails to see how introducing more laws could improve on this.