Four young men died ‘under’ the Labor Government’s Home Insulation Program. Events, so tragic and avoidable that our current Prime Minister ordered a Royal Commission into the program within months of taking office. The Prime Minister, in self-justification that the Royal Commission was the most urgent matter facing the nation boasted that it revealed a ‘litany of failures‘ from the Rudd Government.
Who could ever forget the political mileage he tried to get out of his ‘pink batts’ terror campaign. Labor caused four deaths! Under his smug self-satisfaction at having scored a point score against Labor, there was no indication of empathy for the victims or concern over general workplace safety issues.
And who could ever forget that it cost a Minister in the Rudd Government his job. Ministers are to blame, apparently.
Now let’s go back in time to 2001 and a media release from the ACTU titled ‘Government Fails To Stem Workplace Deaths’, which reads:
A national workplace survey has highlighted the failure of the Federal Government to act against workplace death and injury.
More than half of Australia’s workplaces are failing to carry out basic health and safety precautions, according to an ACTU survey of more than 1200 health and safety representatives.
“More people are being killed or injured in workplace accidents than on our roads, but there has been no national response like the road toll campaign. The Federal Government must take the lead,” said ACTU President Sharan Burrow.
“Despite more than 450 people being killed and 160,000 seriously injured on the job each year, the Howard Government has sat on its hands. Instead, the Government has cut funding to workplace safety and blocked the introduction of new national safety standards. The removal of safeguards from workplace awards has compounded the probem.”
Key findings of the survey include:
- Less than half (47%) of workplaces carry out regular health and safety inspections;
- 30% of sick or injured employees are pressured to return to work before it is safe to do so;
- 20% of health and safety representatives have been bullied or intimidated by management after raising health and safety issues.The most commonly reported health and safety hazards are repetitive work causing muscle strain (63%), noise (60%), heavy lifting (57%), extreme temperatures (55%), inadequate staffing (49%), long hours (40%), dust and fibres (38%), cleaning fluids (37%) and lack of training (36%).
Appalling, wasn’t it?
Now I wonder who the Minister was in 2001.
Well, here’s a surprise, it was Tony Abbott.
- Minister for Employment Services (1998–2001).
- Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations (2001–2003).
I guess the Minister is only responsible if the Minister isn’t Tony Abbott.