Home' Grower : February 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- February 2013
'Harmony' falls victim to faulty WHS bureaucracy
NATIONAL harmonisation of work
health and safety has led to the
recent finalisation of the South
Australian Work Heath and Safety
But overall, business has been duped
with the process of consultation poor and
the legislative/regulatory package near
impossible to successfully implement --
particularly by small businesses.
What is harmonisation?
It was introduced to make the occupa-
tional, health and safety legislative frame-
work (consisting of the model OHS act,
model OHS legislations and model
codes-of-practice) uniform nationally.
In the past, there have been numerous
variations among the laws of each state
and territory, and different standards of
The main objective of the model Work
Health and Safety Act has been to pro-
vide a balanced and nationally consistent
framework, compliance and enforcement
The question is: do we truly have
national harmonisation of Australia's
work health and safety legislation?
In some instances we do, but in other
areas each state is different.
The most important aspect is whether
all of this time and effort will really make
The new South Australian harmonised
work health and safety legislation took
effect on January 1, replacing the former
Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare
The Work Health and Safety Bill 2011
(SA) was passed by both Houses of
Parliament on November 1 last year, but
only with the support of an independent
in the Legislative Council.
One can be cynical and ask what the
trade-offs were for the independent
member to cast a vote in favour of the
legislation when there were so many
The disappointing aspect is that the
independent member had indicated to
many industry organisations that he
would only accept a July 1 commence-
ment date, but then turned around with-
in days and voted with the government
on a January 1 date -- one of many exam-
ples of how industry was 'hung out to
dr y' throughout the consultation period.
What did a business in South
Australia face on January 1?
• Legislation that is 145 pages.
• 456 pages of regulation.
• 23 codes of practice (at this stage).
The release of the 23 COPs was not
officially announced until December 24
last year through an advertisement in The
Advertiser. Until early last month, those
COPs were not accessible on the
SafeWork SA website. They are now
A number of amendments were made
to the WHS bill in the Legislative
Council. Key amendments were:
• Locking-in of a commencement date of
• Further clarification that a person must
eliminate or minimise risks to health
and safety, so far as is reasonably practi-
cable, to the extent to which they have
the capacity to influence and control
Responsible officers that were part of
the past legislation have been removed
and, as a result, rather than having one
trained person in a business responsible
for work health and safety, more individ-
uals within a business will now be held
The trouble is that neither the legisla-
tion, nor SafeWork SA, can say how you
select those people to be held responsi-
This particular aspect is unique to the
SA legislation, meaning the legislation is
not truly harmonised with other state
legislation around Australia.
The other issue is that Victoria has not
yet enacted its legislation.
Other key changes can be summarised
• Duties of care owed by an employer to
its employees have been removed.
They will be owed by a Person
Conducting a Business or Undertaking
• A PCBU is defined to include a person
conducting a business or undertaking
alone or with others and regardless of
whether the business or undertaking is
conducted for profit/gain or not.
• The term 'worker' has been defined
broadly to include contractors,
employees, sub-contractors, out-work-
ers, apprentices, trainees, work experi-
ence students and volunteers.
• The definition of 'workplace' has been
significantly broadened to include a
place where a worker is likely to go or
• Workplace entry for health and safety
purposes is permitted for the holders of
a WHS entry permit.
There are many more.
The new work health and safety
requirements are now part of the every-
day life of every SA business.
Some of you may get a visit by
SafeWork SA as part of their educational
program (part of the agreement reached
with those supporting the legislation).
You might receive a Familiar principles
with a new approach brochure, but this is
only a very small snapshot of a complex
The government will have you believe
that the new legislation is consistent with
the past occupational health and safety
legislation and standards. While there are
some similarities, there are many, many
In coming months, businesses need to
make the necessary adaptations to their
past occupational health and safety
because, if you are caught with any indis-
cretion, anticipate being 'hung out to
It is interesting that the (former)
Minister responsible for driving the new
WHS legislation is no longer a member
of the new Labor ministry.
He has gone, but we are all left with a
legacy of a cumbersome and complicated
WHS package that is near impossible for
any business to successfully implement,
particularly given that it started on
The consultation process receives an F.
The legislative package is far from being
user-friendly and receives an E.
Cumbersome, complicated WHS
Legislation start date moved
Term 'worker' poorly defined
The legislative/regulatory package near impossible to successfully implement --
particularly by small businesses.
Exciting year with
By RICHARD MULCAHY,
Chief executive officer
THIS year is already looking to be an exciting and
important year for AUSVEG and the industry as a
whole, with several events -- including the AUSVEG
National Convention, Trade Show and Awards for
Excellence -- on the horizon.
The convention will be held at Jupiters Gold
Coast in Queensland, from May 30 to June 1.
And now is an excellent time for all those in or
associated with the Australian vegetable industry
to secure their registrations at earlybird rates.
For the first time, AUSVEG will be providing
delegates with the convenience of its new online
registration system: a one-stop shop for
registration, flights and accommodation.
A variety of brilliant and inspirational speakers
will be joining us in 2013, including a favourite
from the 2012 Future Technologies Seminar,
Associate Professor Salah Sukkarieh.
Last year, he presented his research into the
advancement and industry uptake of autonomous
robots and intelligent systems for on-farm
operations, impressing attendees with several
examples of crop intelligence and automation
I would like to encourage all industry
participants to begin nominating their customers
or employees for the 2013 AUSVEG National
Awards for Excellence, to be presented at the Gala
Dinner on Saturday, June 1.
The national awards for excellence recognise the
outstanding achievements of individuals and
organisations within the vegetable and potato
Nominations are now being sought for a range of
categories, including Grower of the Year, Young
Grower of the Year and the Women in Horticulture
A nomination form is available to download from
the AUSVEG website
In other industry matters, AUSVEG is deeply
alarmed by recently released figures by the
Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource
Economics and Sciences demonstrating a $122
million rise in the value of vegetable imports to
The Australian vegetable industry faced several
challenges in 2012, including the closure of
several notable growing and processing
The most recent of these was the iconic
Australian brand, Rosella, which fell into
receivership towards the end of the year.
Governments, consumers and industry must all
work together throughout 2013 to ensure the
viability of domestic vegetable production and to
investigate ways to halt the decline of the
Australian food manufacturing sector.
AUSVEG also continues to drive proposed
changes to country-of-origin labelling laws
because they will be a significant step forward for
Australian growers and consumers.
I sincerely hope these reforms, presented to
Federal Parliament by the Australian Greens last
year, will put an end to what is presently a vague
and misleading country-of-origin labelling system.
AUSVEG will be appearing before a Senate
Inquiry this month.
Next issue: March 2013
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February 22, 2013
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