My adjournment matter this evening is directed to the Premier and is in relation to workplace occupational health and safety matters. I was quite horrified to learn that this government has withdrawn the right of the community to be notified of company breaches of their obligations under health and safety legislation.
For those in the chamber who are not aware, WorkCover has now been advised not to issue media releases when companies are prosecuted for breaking the law. This is from a government that lauds its tough-on-crime credentials at every opportunity. It seems that when it comes to the health and safety of working people on the job, the rights of workers to not be killed or poisoned in the performance of their work is an inconvenience and one that should not be allowed to tarnish the reputations of companies even when they do the wrong thing.
This is at a time when we have a very high reportage of workplace deaths and workplace injuries. Indeed it is currently at a three-year high.
I believe that transparency and the name-and-shame arrangements for these serious breaches is an integral part of the system of deterrence that operates to improve workplace safety. It seems to me that rather than trying to hide these facts we should be putting them up in neon lights as a deterrent to all of those who operate unsafe workplaces or have unsafe work practices.
We also know that the Victorian WorkCover Authority is underresourced. This is no time to have the authority cutting corners.
I think it is important that we remind employers that the onus is on them to make sure that workplaces are safe and to educate workers themselves to make sure that everyone is doing the right thing.
We know this because even the chief executive of WorkSafe Victoria, Denise Cosgrove, in the WorkSafe annual report identified public information as being central to the authority’s strategy to improve workplace safety.
The action I am seeking is that the Premier ensure that the WorkCover ads that have been pulled are put back on our TV screens, billboards and everywhere else so that the public is aware of workplace concerns and ensure that media releases go out from the WorkCover authority that name and shame those who have been successfully prosecuted as a result of unsafe occupational health and safety practices in their workplace.