A NSW Government decision to shelve planned reform of the state’s much maligned occupational health and safety laws has met with outrage from employer representatives.
NSW’s OHS laws are widely regarded as the worst in the country, with workplace injury levels above the national average despite the highest level of prosecutions and fines in the country.
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The NSW Government engaged retired Supreme Court judge Paul Stein to conduct an inquiry into the system and drafted legislation that would have brought the state’s laws closer to the more up-to-date system in Victoria.
But, The Australian reports, the Iemma Government has now withdrawn the legislation and says it has decided not to make any changes to the system in the face of union objections to the changes.
NSW Business Chamber chief executive Kevin MacDonald says any move to scrap the changes would represent a major breach of faith with NSW businesses.
MacDonald says the sole reason for junking the process is appease trade unions in the lead-up to the ALP state conference.
“The fact is NSW has the most draconian OH&S regime in Australia and has injury rates higher than the Australian average – and it deserves better than a system that is failing both employers and employees,” MacDonald says.
The NSW opposition says it plans to introduce the OH&S legislation into Parliament next month to force the Government’s hand on the laws.