The time is right to update you on the latest discussions with the Andrews Government on their intent to implement new workplace manslaughter legislation and the important role that Master Builders Victoria is playing on your behalf in these significant discussions.
We all agree that one workplace death is one too many and there’s no room for complacency on any worksite.
While we believe that Victoria’s existing legislative framework has helped create safety outcomes that are the envy of the rest of the world, it has become very clear that the Andrews Government is intent on following through on a pre-2018 election commitment to introduce new ‘workplace manslaughter’ laws.
You may remember at that time Master Builders Victoria argued firmly that new legislation was not required and maintained there was no legislative gap that needed to be filled. Our position on this has not changed.
However, having won the election convincingly, the Andrews Government has now made it clear that the introduction of such legislation is - in its words - ‘non-negotiable’.
The political reality of the parliamentary number-crunching also tells us that with the Andrews Government having a clear majority in the Victorian Lower House - and what appears to be a majority following on this issue in the Upper House - it seems likely to have the numbers required to make good on its promises for change.
While Master Builders Victoria recognises the Andrews Government’s non-negotiable stance on the introduction of new legislation, what we believe should be negotiable are the details within any proposed legislation; we will strive to ensure that members’ interests are protected relating to those details.
Therefore, in order to put the view of Master Builders Victoria forward, CEO Rebecca Casson is participating on the taskforce that has been created to guide the implementation of these workplace fatalities laws.
Led by the Member for Sydenham, the Hon. Natalie Hutchins MP, the taskforce includes members and representatives from business, unions, industry and victims’ families.
It includes representatives from VCCI, AI Group, VFF, HIA, Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC), CFMEU, NUW, ETU, AWU and three representatives of deceased workers’ families – Dr Lana Cormie, David Brownlee and Janine Brownlee.
There have been two taskforce meetings, with two more scheduled, with a deadline to report back to Government before October 2019.
We are well aware that this is an extremely concerning issue for our members and we believe our seat at the taskforce table is an important opportunity for us to be able to argue for the best possible outcomes for our members, and our industry, in the face of the Andrews Government’s intractable determination for legislative change.
As the leading voice in the building and construction industry, Master Builders Victoria is committed to being part of a fair and rational solution to improve safety outcomes on construction sites, but from the standpoint that we fervently believe – and will argue – that everyone should be responsible for safety.
People who are culpable and cause a death should be held to account – whether they are the boss, manager, contractor, employee or other duty holder. Master Builders Victoria agrees that if anyone knowingly fails to meet proper safety standards and causes a death, they should be held accountable.
We want to assure you that Master Builders Victoria is committed to working with the government - and stakeholders on the taskforce - to help deliver a fair and appropriate resolution to this important challenge.
The interests of our members and the industry remain paramount to our involvement in the taskforce, but we also recognise there are many conflicting and emotional challenges in these discussions and a solution may not be easily agreed upon.
We are committed to keeping you - our members - informed of our progress and will update you regularly on this most important issue.
Should you have any questions, please contact us on (03) 9411 4555.