The Australian Greens welcome this inquiry and support the recommendations made by the Committee. The creation of a new offence of industrial manslaughter has long been Greens policy and we welcome moves by the Committee and other political parties towards this end.
As a general principle, we have a preference for a model that puts industrial manslaughter into the Crimes Act, but we also note the broad support for the ‘Queensland model’ and the Greens welcome moves to have this extended throughout Australia.
We would also like to see as a general principle that industrial deaths include all work related deaths, and not just traumatic fatalities, as this would more accurately reflect the impact on workers and would allow their families access to appropriate remedies. In particular, deaths caused by work related diseases and suicides should be covered.
Consideration of workers who die by suicide, particularly after poor handling of compensation claims, is also currently inadequate and should be addressed in any new reforms. Further, there is a strong case for the collection of data and statistics regarding this matter.
With respect to recommendation 32 regarding the establishment of pro bono legal assistance to families, we think this should be extended to include “and any other assistance deemed necessary”, as we are aware of cases (including with Aboriginal families) where accessing inquests has been particularly difficult because of financial constraints.