Labor will strengthen our work, health and safety laws and improve justice for families left behind

A Shorten Labor Government will strengthen work, health and safety laws, improve justice, and support those who have been tragically impacted by workplace deaths and injury.

This election will be a choice between a Shorten Labor Government that will make workplaces safe and restore penalty rates, or more of the Liberals’ pay cuts and chaos.

Labor established the model work, health and safety laws in government in 2011. Eight years on, it’s clear that the laws are no longer harmonised or adequate, and states and territories have had to step in to fill the leadership void of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government.

In 2018, 157 workers were killed in Australian workplaces. Every single worker in Australia should be able to come home safely at the end of each day.

We know that more work needs to be done to make sure Australian workplaces continue to be the safest they can be. This includes making sure that deterrents and penalties work effectively to reduce injuries and prevent deaths.

When serious accidents do happen in workplaces, families also need to have confidence the system will give them fair access to justice.

Workplace health and safety is a shared responsibility. Labor will work with state and territory governments to establish a harmonised industrial manslaughter offence across Australia.

Implementing a harmonised industrial manslaughter offence was a key recommendation made through the first independent review of the model work health and safety laws (the Boland review), released in February this year.

Work, health and safety ministers from across Australia will meet in the second half of this year to decide on the course of action of this and the other recommendations to come out of the Boland review.

Loved ones, families and workplace colleagues are changed by workplace accidents and the impact can last forever. We have listened to the families of those impacted by workplace deaths and injuries and believe those who have lost loved ones should be able to actively contribute to future reforms in workplace health and safety.

To make sure those who have been impacted by serious workplace deaths and injuries receive the very best support, assistance and a voice, Labor will also establish a national advisory committee.

The committee will be made up of representatives from each state and territory who have been personally impacted by a serious workplace injury or death. They will provide advice to the federal, state and territory work health and safety ministers, and will receive secretariat support from SafeWork Australia to meet and develop recommendations for governments to act upon.

The Liberals have been noticeably absent on work, health and safety matters in their six years in government.

Without consistency and agreed principles, the framework and purpose behind the model work, health and safety laws is being eroded.

Under a Shorten Labor Government, safety at work will be a priority once again, because one tragic and avoidable workplace death is one too many.

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