The NSW Government has rejected the case for establishing industrial manslaughter laws in the state.
Kevin Anderson, Minister for Better Regulation, said that instead of industrial manslaughter he would rather give priority to “risky work practices,” present in the upcoming new legislation.
Industrial manslaughter laws are present in the ACT and Queensland, with Western Australia’s Labor Government signaling last month that they would introduce an industrial manslaughter bill.
Industrial manslaughter laws seek to prosecute and increase the penalties for the action or inaction of an employer that results in the employee’s death. Thus, industrial manslaughter laws can inflict bigger penalties and jail time on an employer or owner of a firm.
Liam O’Brien, assistant secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, said this move by the NSW government was disappointing, particularly so after a “number of fatalities” occurred in September in workplaces.
“[Industrial manslaughters are] absolutely a necessary reform and it’s something the community has been calling really strongly for.”
Adam Searle, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations also added to calls for industrial manslaughter laws said, “A strong, clear message needs to be sent about how seriously we take the issues of workplace safety and deaths as a society.”
According to Safe Work Australia, 121 Australian workers have died at work in 2019, as at 10 October.
Other jurisdictions that are looking forward to introducing industrial manslaughter legislation include Victoria and the Northern Territory.
At a national level, there have been two national reviews that have suggested the introduction of industrial manslaughter law across Australia. These include the Senate Inquiry into Industrial Deaths that took place in 2018 and the Marie Boland review of the model WHS laws that concluded in early 2019.