In February 2008 the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council (WRMC) agreed to the development of model legislation for enactment by each State, Territory and the Commonwealth, as a means to harmonising health and safety legislation across Australia.
In July of that year the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to facilitate this process. (http://www.coag.gov.au/sites/default/files/OHS_IGA.pdf)
In October 2008 and January 2009 a review of national health and safety legislation was undertaken by and advisory panel, chaired by Robin Stewart-Crompton. The purpose of these reviews were to make recommendations on the structure of the model legislation.(http://docs.employment.gov.au/system/files/doc/pdf/national_review_into_model_ohs_laws_firstreport.pdf) (http://docs.employment.gov.au/system/files/doc/pdf/national_review_into_model_ohs_laws_secondreport.pdf )
In May 2009 the WRMC agreed to a framework for this model legislation. At this time Troy Buswell represented Western Australia as the Minister for Commerce and Julia Gillard (Deputy Prime Minister) represented the Commonwealth as Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. (http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/media-events/media releases/Documents/MR20090518_WRMC81Communique.pdf )
In 2009, Safe Work Australia was formed . Safe Work Australia is an independent Australian Government statutory agency who’s role is to develop and lead work health and safety (WHS) policy. Safe Work Australia were tasked with developing the model legislation.
In September 2009, Safe Work Australia released a draft Model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, for public comment Changes were made to this model legislation as a result of the consultation process.
On 11th December 2009, the WRMC endorsed the revised model WHS Act. http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/598/Model_Work_Health_and_Safety_Bill_23_June_2011.pdf )
On 4th November 2011 the model Regulations were finalised. These were subsequently amended in January 2014. ( http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/616/Model-WHS-Regulations-January-2014.pdf )
A deadline of 1st January 2012 was set for each State, Territory and the Commonwealth to enact the model legislation.
In 2012, The Commonwealth, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Queensland enacted the new WHS legalisation. South Australia and Tasmania followed in 2013.
The Victorian Government have stated that they will not adopt the model legislation in it’s current form.
The Western Australian Government has stated that, while they agree in principle to the new WHS legislation, they feel that the national regulatory impact assessment , undertaken in December 2009, does not adequately reflect the nature of industry and employment in this state. ( http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/465/DecisonMakingRIS_Dec09.pdf )
More on Western Australia and harmonisation later……………..