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The Western Australian Government has signalled its plans to introduce legislation into its parliament in June, that could see the state’s Work Health and Safety laws being harmonised with the rest of the country by the end of the year.
Unlike the rest of Australia, Western Australia will have two sets of WHS laws; one that will apply to the mining industry (WHS Resources Bill) and the second for the non-mining sector (Model WHS Bill).
A ministerial advisory panel released an “indicative” timeline this week, where it indicated both bills would be passed by the end of November.
“The target is to get the Bills into parliament in the spring session. However, this is dependent on the parliamentary drafting process,” said the agenda Minute from a meeting held by the Ministerial Advisory Panel on Safety Legislation Reform.
“The Bill for the Act is 95% compliant with the national model,” it added. The Western Australian government has already drafted the general WHS legislation.
The model WHS laws have already been adopted by the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia. Victoria is the only state to signal its unwillingness to adopt the new laws. The introduction of the legislation in Western Australia has been delayed due to the state government conducting its own analysis of the impact of the model WHS laws.
The state’s Worksafe Commissioner argued the National Regulation Impact Statement prepared by the Federal Government “fell short” in properly assessing the impact of the new laws, particularly on small business.
The state government’s review was completed in 2013, with a recommendation that Western Australia modify the harmonised WHS Laws with respect to the ability of Health and Safety Representatives to stop unsafe work, right of entry for Unions where safety breaches are suspected, the reverse onus of proof where discrimination on the basis of safety is alleged, and the size of penalties.
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