OHS Retreat Squanders Progress, Resources and Goodwill

“Important steps towards strengthening the Australian economy could be jeopardised if the New South Wales Premier winds back the clock in the establishment of a harmonised national system for occupational health and safety,” said Business Council of Australia Deputy Chief Executive Maria Tarrant.

The BCA has called on the federal government to reject Ms Keneally’s request to retain features of the New South Wales OHS system within the framework of harmonised national laws.

Ms Tarrant said the BCA hoped and expected the Commonwealth would stand firm on the reform framework that had been agreed through comprehensive consultations and an independent panel review over several years. These processes included vigorous debate and ultimately, the rejection of the specific features the premier wants to retain.

“The BCA regards harmonisation of OHS regulations as a lynchpin reform in the seamless national economy agenda, strongly advocated by business and adopted by COAG,” said Ms Tarrant.

Ms Tarrant said agreed milestones for the national regime required model regulation to be finalised by early next year, with the enactment of legislation and regulations completed by December 2011.

She said the BCA had written to the New South Wales Premier today asking her to reconsider her request.

“Given the level of consensus that has been reached, and the effort and resources devoted to the process, the premier’s apparent backslide discourages not only future reform, but also the trust and goodwill needed to bring parties to the table in negotiating it.”