The Australian Labor Party has released its draft national platform and in it outlined several significant OHS-related changes it would implement should it win the next federal election.
On perhaps the most contentious topic, Labor said it will ensure that all industrial chemicals are assessed, by requiring safety data to be “complete, up to date, and comprehensive”. This comes after members of the Labor party voiced concerns in 2017 over the Coalition’s plans to significantly cut the number of chemicals requiring pre-introduction assessments, and the lack of provisions requiring employers keep accurate records of hazardous substances.
The ALP also commit to tackling the emerging risks associated with nanotechnology. It says it will ensure the nation’s regulatory framework is “responsive to new developments in the application of nanotechnology and new evidence on nanotechnology risks”.
Another key promise involves ensuring company directors can’t evade responsibility for workplace injuries, illnesses, or deaths through corporate restructuring. Other commitments include special safety legislation for the extraordinary hazards faced by firefighters, improved regulation of stevedoring safety, and the harmonisation of OHS regimes covering offshore oil and gas industry workers.
Labor will also oppose any changes to Comcare that allow employers to exit other Australian Workers’ Compensation schemes, thereby undermining the viability of those schemes, including any move to outsource or privatise Comcare.
The next Australian federal election must be called on or before May 2019 (half senate).