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New ACT Industrial Court

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The ACT is to have a new court to cover industrial and workplace safety matters.

The Labor Party promised to set up the new court during last year's ACT election in response to the large number of workplace accidents and deaths that occurred in recent years.

Today legislation setting up the court was passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell says an industrial magistrate will be appointed for a four-year term to hear and decide claims up to $250,000.

He says the court will bring a new focus and expertise to workplace safety matters

"The new Industrial Court is the centrepiece of a number of important initiatives the Government is undertaking to improve the safety of ACT workers and gives well-deserved attention to the legitimate issue of worker safety," he said.

"This new court will promote greater consistency in decision-making and the application of appropriate penalties by the court generating greater confidence in the process across industry."

Mr Corbell says the creation of the new court coincides with the introduction of new harmonised work health and safety laws across Australia.

Under the laws a company to be fined up to $3 million for a serious safety breach, while a negligent company director can be fined up to $600,000 or sent to jail for up to five years.

"The higher penalties for work safety offences will send a salutary message to those non-compliant businesses who think they can cut corners, flout the law and put workers' safety at risk," Mr Corbell said.

The Opposition supported the bill, despite concerns the court's role is ill-defined.

Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson doubts the court will make a difference.

"The question does need to be asked what contribution will a separate industrial court make in reducing the incidence of workplace injury in the ACT?" he said.

Courtesy:  ABC News


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