Industrial manslaughter laws progress through Parliament in both NSW and Tasmania



Industrial manslaughter laws progress through Parliament in both NSW and Tasmania

21 June 2024

The Maritime Union of Australia welcomes the news of two Australian states concurrently moving to criminalise industrial manslaughter, with new legislation passing Parliament in both New South Wales and passing the lower house of the Tasmanian Parliament this week.

In New South Wales, industrial manslaughter laws were a key commitment of the Labor Party in opposition that has now been enacted after many months of consultation and drafting by Minister for Industrial Relations, Sophie Cotsis MP.

“With our workers facing deadly risks in some of the most dangerous workplaces, the MUA has been working closely alongside our comrades in other blue collar unions to progress these reforms for many years, and we commend Minister Cotsis’s thorough and steady approach to getting these laws through the Parliament so that workers know their bosses will be held accountable for preventable deaths on the job,” said MUA Sydney Branch Deputy Secretary, Paul Garrett.

In Tasmania, where the Liberal Party governs in slim minority, the laws were proposed and introduced to Parliament by the Labor Opposition and passed the Lower House with the support of the crossbench.

“We have advocated relentlessly to secure this important safety reform for Tasmanian workers, despite dogged resistance from the Liberal Government. Yesterday’s passage of the Safer Workplaces Bill shows that when working class people stand together in unity and demand better laws, we will win,” said the MUA’s Tasmania Branch secretary, Jason Campbell.

“We now call upon the Upper House to quickly endorse this reform and send a clear message to all bosses, managers and CEOs that every workplace death is preventable and they will be held accountable for any failure to keep workers safe at work,” Mr Campbell said.

The new penalty prescribed by the New South Wales laws is up to 25 years imprisonment for an individual and a penalty of $20 million for a body corporate. The 25 year prison term is equivalent with the existing maximum penalty for manslaughter under the Crimes Act 1900, reflecting the seriousness of the offence.

The MUA’s National Safety Officer, Justin Timmins, commended the coordinated political and industrial campaigns that are delivering these overdue reforms in multiple jurisdictions nationwide.

“Countless MUA, CFMEU and other union delegates, rank and file activists, HSRs as well as the grieving families of workers who never came home have led the charge for these reforms throughout Australia, and the progress of legislation through two state parliaments this week is testament to their commitment and resolve in the face of resistance and indifference from bosses, companies and conservative governments,” Mr Timmins said.

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