The Nationals WA have called on the McGowan Government to deliver additional information and consultation sessions right across regional Western Australia, after a number of locations were omitted from the State Government’s proposed Work Health and Safety Act for Western Australia consultation schedule.
Leader Mia Davies said the Minister for Industrial Relations announced the McGowan Government’s intention to introduce laws relating to industrial manslaughter, along with a series of Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety information sessions.
“However there is a notable gap in the locations of these sessions being delivered, including only one in the Wheatbelt where the vast majority of our State’s agricultural activity occurs,” Ms Davies said.
Ms Davies said the Minister had demonstrated gross oversight in omitting agricultural communities given primary industries accounted for the second highest rate of workplace deaths after the construction sector.
“The McGowan Government has once again proven it has no interest the agricultural sector after excluding key locations from important information sessions in relation to industrial manslaughter,” she said.
Of 18 face-to-face sessions, none will occur in regional towns of Carnarvon, Kununurra, Manjimup, Esperance or Katanning. These towns are regional hubs in regions which rely heavily on horticulture, forestry and agriculture.
The original schedule included Esperance but excluded sessions in the South West of the State. Once questions about the lack of true consultation were raised by The Nationals WA team, two sessions were added in Bunbury, one in Merredin and Esperance was removed entirely.
During Question Time in Parliament last week, the Minister launched an extraordinary attack on the agricultural sector, but has barely paid the respect of providing industry an opportunity for learning, consultation or feedback.
Ms Davies said people working in primary industries were at far greater risk of workplace injury or death given the nature of their work, giving all the more reason for them to be included in the Department’s consultation.
“We know through figures collected by Safe Work Australia that primary industries represent only 2.3 per cent of the workforce but account for 23 per cent of workplace fatalities,” she said.
“These are tough people doing tough jobs and as such they deserve open and transparent access to the development of laws that could ultimately protect them and their families.”
The Nationals spokesperson for industrial relations Vince Catania said Labor lacked credibility when it came to consulting properly and didn’t take regional engagement seriously.
“The Minister clearly has no idea what it’s like to live and work on the land – he blamed farmers for not protecting their children, said they were uncommitted to farm safety and not accepting safety obligations,” Mr Catania said.
“It is insulting to these hardworking people, who should be consulted rather than treated like the enemy.”