Draft OHS Harmonisation Provisions Infringement Notices, Enforceable Undertakings and Notices


Ms Laurene Hull
Executive Director
NT WorkSafe
GPO Box 4821
DARWIN   NT 0801

Re: Comments – Draft OHS Harmonisation Provisions
Infringement Notices, Enforceable Undertakings and Notices of Decision

Dear Laurene,

Thank you for your briefing on 10th June and the opportunity to make comment on the above draft provisions. I apologise for the delay in getting our comments to you by the agreed date.

The Minerals Council of Australia represents Australia’s exploration, mining and minerals processing industry, nationally and internationally, in its contribution to sustainable development and society. MCA’s member companies produce more than 85 percent of Australia’s annual mineral output.

Northern Territory members comprise more than 100 individual mining, exploration and service support companies operating in the jurisdiction and comprise 25 percent of the Territory’s gross state product, employing more than 4,600 people.

The Minerals Council of Australia has been involved in the development of the Occupational Health and Safety Provisions nationally with input from our various member stakeholders from various jurisdictions. We do recognise the need to ensure that the provisions, while harmonised nationally, are well implemented and applied at a “local level”.

Our comments on the above provisions are general in nature as opposed to focusing on specific details contained within the documents.

As discussed at our meeting on 10th June, MCA NT Division will await the outcome of further discussions between state authorities regarding the application of infringement notices in conjunction with enforceable undertakings.

Our view is that infringement notices and enforceable undertakings should be utilised as part of a hierarchy of reinforcement tools to support previous formal advice or directions given by the regulator that have not been acted upon or where insufficient progress or resolution on an issue has not occurred based on mutually agreed undertakings. We would not support infringement notices being applied liberally and without sufficient investigation and await your advice as to the value of the penalty units that will apply.

We also note that there is provision within the process for withdrawal of infringement notices where notices have been issued without justification or in error of fact. However, we are unclear of any dispute or appeal processes that may apply to infringement notices and look forward to your advice on these issues.

In addition, we would expect that where an alleged offender was proven to be “innocent” of an alleged offence or infringement, that records of any failed “prosecution” would not be used by the regulator against the party in future actions and that any “conviction” would not be recorded against the party. We also expect that any public information regarding details of an alleged offence would not be published until such time as the matter was proven or where an alleged offender acknowledged or accepted the claims against them.

We expect that all records retained by the regulator will remain confidential (noting public notice provisions) and would like to remain informed regarding how freedom of information provisions apply to infringement notice and enforceable undertaking records held by the regulator.

The industry’s view is that a transitional period should see limited application of both infringement notices and enforceable undertakings as part of the education process.

As a general comment, we look forward to working with NT WorkSafe as part of an industry awareness and education campaign leading up to the commencement date for the new legislation. We also expect that NT WorkSafe will have sufficiently skilled resources in appropriate numbers to assistant the industry through the transitional period and look forward to your further advice in the near future how we might collectively achieve these outcomes.

 

Yours sincerely,

Peter Stewart
Executive Director

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