Release type: Media Release


Australian Governments finalise historic OHS regulations and codes


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans, today announced that the harmonisation of OHS laws is one step closer with the majority of jurisdictions approving new work health and safety regulations and codes of practice.

“The vast majority of state and territory governments have approved these laws which will deliver tangible economic benefits and ensure that workers enjoy the same decent safety standards no matter where they live and work,” Senator Evans said.

Seven out of nine jurisdictions have now approved the model regulations and codes of practice and have committed to meeting the COAG deadline of 1 January 2012.   Victorian and Western Australian governments are the only two yet to sign up.

“Instead of seeking unnecessary delays I urge the Victorian and Western Australian Government’s to honour their commitment to implement these reforms by 1 January 2012,” Senator Evans said.

“These reforms will make Victoria and Western Australia safer and businesses more productive.”

This reform and timetable have the support of the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Business Council of Australia as well as the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

“This is fundamental economic reform which has the potential to deliver up to $2 billion per annum in productivity improvements in addition to a national benefit of $250 million per annum by cutting red tape for businesses,” Senator Evans said. 

“While most jurisdictions will enjoy the benefits of the reforms, Victorians and Western Australians are in danger of missing out.

“Under the Seamless National Economy National Partnership, the Commonwealth will make $450 million of reward payments to states and territories who meet the agreed timetable for the implementation of OHS reform.”

For example, Victoria is eligible to receive more than $111 million, $50 million of which has already been factored into their budget forward estimates.

“Reward payments should certainly be a consideration for the States and Territories, especially since some have already factored them into their budget forward estimates.” Senator Evans said.

“With two months until the COAG deadline it appears that Victoria and WA will be left with outmoded safety regulations which don’t meet the needs of a dynamic twenty-first century economy and labour market.”

Senator Evans also announced that transitional arrangements for the model OHS laws have been developed by Safe Work Australia to assist businesses to move to the new harmonised arrangements.

“The transitional arrangements will apply to the model OHS Regulations and provide delayed commencement of up to 12 months or more where the new laws result in a new or significantly different set of duties,” Senator Evans said.

“The developments of sensible transitional arrangements are part and parcel of any new laws.”