Work Health and Safety Bill


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (21:46): It is a pleasure to follow the exceptionally thorough work of the member for Davenport and I, too, am sure that I will get a smile from the member for Torrens because I will be very brief. I will be very brief because so many issues have been covered so capably by the member for Davenport.

I would just like to put on the record my concern and desire for clarification in one main area, and that is how this legislation would affect volunteer organisations. The member for Davenport touched on that just a minute ago, and he also touched on it yesterday just before he finished the first part of his contribution.

As I understand it, the implications of this legislation would affect any organisation or person conducting a business or undertaking. We do not expect that to be volunteer organisations. However, I believe that it would affect any volunteer organisation that employs a person even just for a very short period of time. I thank the Hon. Rob Lucas in the other place for the work that he has done investigating this, and I believe that parliamentary counsel have confirmed that this fear is justified.

It is fair to say also that the Hon. Russell Wortley, the minister in the other place, is on record as having said that he does not think it is justified. Therefore, my main purpose is to ask that that be made very clear one way or the other, because we have a minister with one opinion and parliamentary counsel with another.

My concern is that if a legitimate volunteer organisation—and, as this house knows, there are far too many to count in the electorate of Stuart—employs somebody (and that might be employing somebody as a player, umpire, coach, barman, cleaner, cook, waiter or waitress, as a seamstress, potentially, for a calisthenics organisation, or something like that, as a bus driver, potentially, and the list goes on) would that organisation, even though they might just pay somebody for a few hours from time to time, and everything that that organisation does, come under this legislation?

I do not ask this question because I want any loopholes for these small groups but I know that there are small volunteer organisations in my electorate—and all over the state, city and country—who have operated very safely for decades and will continue to do absolutely everything they possibly can to do so. To burden them with an enormous amount of extra red tape I do not think is going to make them operate more safely but it is very likely to discourage their volunteers from wanting to continue or discourage more volunteers from coming on board.

Everybody in this house, regardless of what part of the state they represent, knows that it is harder and harder to get volunteers to come on board. There was an article in The Advertiser earlier this week saying that young people do want to volunteer but they do not want to do it in a structured committed way. Whether these are sporting groups, exercise groups, play groups, drama groups, any type of organisation, they do need volunteers in a structured way. We need people to get involved; we need people to commit their time, and we need younger people to get involved. They are already under pressure; they are already doing too much, and they are not going to get other people to come and lighten the load if the red tape is going to grow.

The house knows very well from the brief comments I made earlier today with regard to the 2010-11 annual report of the Parliamentary Committee on Occupational Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation that I take workplace safety—whether for volunteers or professional people—extremely seriously. However, again, I do not want volunteer organisations to be lumbered with all this extra red tape, certainly not ones that are already operating safely and have done so for decades. So, I ask the minister handling this legislation here to perhaps confer with the minister from the other place and clarify this, because I see the minister and parliamentary counsel having two completely contrary views on this particular issue, and I think it is very important that it is clarified.


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