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Sparkies slam SA Labor move to introduce industrial manslaughter laws

Peak industry body Master Electricians Australia (MEA) has today slammed the announcement by South Australian Labor to increase penalties for offences that result in work place deaths if they win the current state election.

The election pledge promises to introduce increased penalties, along with jail terms, for OHS offences that result in workplace deaths.

MEA Manager of Advisory Services Jason O’Dwyer said that the Queensland laws were politically motivated, and that South Australian Labor need to explain what gaps in the legislation their policies address.

“MEA strongly opposed the introduction of similar laws in Queensland and we are yet to hear a compelling reason as to why South Australia needs to pass similar legislation,” Mr O’Dwyer said.

“The SA Labor leader needs to explain what current gap in the legislation his policy would address if implemented, otherwise it’s just duplicating existing laws that already deal with manslaughter.

“The Queensland laws were motivated purely by politics and did nothing to actually improve the safety of either Queensland workers or the public.

“Throughout the process in Queensland, both the QLD Law Society and QLD Bar Association voiced real concerns over the legislation.

Introduced last October, the Queensland Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 introduced maximum fines of $10 million and jail terms of 20 years.

“The laws passed in Queensland are not ones that other state governments should be looking to emulate,” Mr O’Dwyer said.

“On top of failing to improve safety, the Queensland legislation has resulted in WHS inspectors having less accountability than police officers and diminishes the rights to silence of those implicated in what is manslaughter.

“MEA calls on the South Australian leader to explain why any person who unintentionally kills someone should be prosecuted under any law other than the Criminal Code.

“These laws would duplicate the current Criminal Code and will only add confusion surrounding the law, including which agency conducts the investigation, following what can only be described as tragic circumstances – someone’s death.

“If it was my loved one, I’d want the best investigating team possible and that is surely the police who are specialists in this area.”


Jason O’Dwyer is available for interview. 

Contact The SAS Group on (07) 3221 9222 or 0408 612 603.