Federal Election 2019 Series – the Federal ALP promises to revitalise industrial manslaughter agenda

The Federal ALP has promised to negotiate with State Governments to introduce harmonised industrial manslaughter laws.

This announcement follows the introduction of the Work Health and Safety (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Bill 2019 (Bill) by the South Australian Greens Party.

The Bill proposes jail terms of up to 20 years for company officers or employers, who knew, or ought reasonably to have known, or were recklessly indifferent as to whether a breach of the primary duty of care would create a substantial risk of serious harm, if the breach causes a death.

The maximum fine for breaches of the proposed Bill is $1 million, falling short of the $10 million maximum fine in Queensland.

Summary of industrial manslaughter laws across Australia

JurisdictionIM offenceStatus
New South WalesNoNo concrete plans
VictoriaNoPromised by State ALP Government
QueenslandYesCommenced 23 October 2017
South AustraliaNo Bill introduced by Greens Party
Western AustraliaNo Promised by the State ALP Government
TasmaniaNo No concrete plans
Australian Capital TerritoryYesCommenced 1 March 2004
Northern TerritoryNoNo concrete plans

At present, only two of eight States and Territories have industrial manslaughter laws in place, but the announcement by the Federal ALP and the efforts made by State ALP Governments and the Greens have ensured that this topic remains firmly in the public consciousness.

A Federal ALP victory at the upcoming Federal could shift momentum, even in Liberal-led States.

This article was written by Cinzia Pietrolungo, Lawyer – Employment, Safety and Migration.