Victoria Shadow Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell
Powell Questions Practicality Of Council WorkCover Legislation
Victor P Taffa
Guidelines and regulations from new legislation extending workers compensation to councillors needs to be clarified by Premier John Brumby to ensure there are no implications for local government, Victoria Shadow Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell said today.
Mrs. Powell said the new provisions aimed to provide protection for councillors injured in the course of performing their elected duties, but there were concerns about the practical implementation of the legislation.
“The government has a poor track record on consulting with local government before making changes to important legislation.” Mrs. Powell said.
“This new legislation as it stands does not clearly define a councillor’s responsibilities or duties, or what constitutes a councillor’s workplace.”
“Also, under the new legislation, councillors would be deemed to be employees of the council for the purposes of WorkCover, however Section 29D of the Local Government Act disqualifies a person from being a councillor or a candidate for council if they are a staff member of the council.”
Mrs. Powell said while a number of councils supported the new legislation there were concerns about the operation of the scheme.
“The Brumby Government has promised it will work with councils as it prepares the new guidelines and regulations, but there will be implications for local councils if Labor’s new legislation has been poorly thought through.” Mrs. Powell said.
“We don’t want to see a repeat of poorly drafted legislation rushed through Parliament and then amended because the government has not got it right.”
Mrs. Powell said changes to the Accident Compensation Amendment Bill 2009 required regulations and guidelines to be in place by 1 July 2010.
The issue that is of great concern is when any Government introduces new laws affecting employment conditions and then does not provide sufficient resources to enforce those regulations.
The insulation program of the Federal Government has seen fatalities occur with poor enforcement of regulations.
Whether it is Local, State or Federal Government workplace safety is of paramount importance. Every person has at the very least the right to leave home in the morning and go to work and return home in the evening in the same physical condition to which that person left.
Industrial accidents while sometimes unavoidable can be almost eliminated if Government’s enforced regulations in order to keep the work place safe.
It would seem that the lessons learned from the industrial revolution have been forgotten and society is losing out.
In a perfect world there would be no need for any type of work place regulation however as we all know this is not the case.