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Government announcements - October 2019

November 05, 2019

Today the Victorian Government has made two announcements about legislation it will introduce to the Parliament this week.

Workplace Manslaughter Bill

The Victorian government is introducing legislation into Parliament to create an offence of workplace manslaughter. While HIA participated on the Governments Taskforce to ensure members views were represented we remain concerned with the governments approach.

Under the proposed new laws:

Employers and contractors who negligently cause a workplace death will face fines of up to $16.5 million and individuals will face up to 20 years in jail.

As previously advised, employees cannot be charged with the proposed workplace manslaughter offence. Despite HIA and other industry and employer associations raising concerns about this exclusion – which is totally inconsistent with the existing occupational health and safety system – the government’s press release today indicates that employees will indeed be excluded.

It is also expected that the proposed offence will also have a disproportionate impact on small businesses. The overseas experience and fact that most small business owners have a ‘hands-on’ role in the business means that these businesses will be most at risk of prosecution.

HIA will provide more information to members about the proposal once the Bill is made available.

Building Bill

The Victorian government has also announced further proposed amendments to the Building Act 1993.

This Bill is intended to address phoenixing of building companies by making amendments to the VBA’s powers when registering or renewing the registration of a building practitioner.

For the majority of building practitioners in Victoria this legislation should have no direct relevance. Registered domestic builders are required to hold eligibility for domestic building insurance before their application for registration can be granted or renewed. In addition the registered domestic building practitioner needs to provide evidence of their continuing eligibility each year. Registered domestic builders also need to maintain brand credibility and a long standing reputation which is not possible when phoenixing.

HIA will provide more information to members about the Bill when available.

If you need more information about these matters you may contact a HIA workplace services advisor on 1300 650 620.