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Building and Construction – WorkSafe Independence

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Tags: WorkSafe, Integrity

Dr WOODRUFF - In March this year, WorkSafe Tasmania issued a prohibition notice to the Bob Brown Foundation in relation to their peaceful protect to save native forest from being logged. The notice could have resulted in fines of up to $500 000. That decision was widely criticised as being political and undermining the integrity of the regulator. Unions Tasmania announced it had lost confidence in the regulator as a result of these actions. What are you doing to restore Tasmanian's confidence in the Workplace Safety Regulator?

Ms ARCHER - The person I have at the table with me now, Ms Pearce, is the independent regulator. She has been in that position, and I am sure she will be able to tell us.

Ms PEARCE - Since 27 October.

Ms ARCHER - Thank you. She has had a massive role in her position as executive director of WorkSafe Tasmania and wears that hat of Independent Regulator. She has been involved in a number of different decisions and in relation to her independent duties in that regard so I have every faith in her ability. The work that Ms Pearce has undertaken as a result of COVID-19 and our response to that and with our Event framework and other work safe plans, I have every confidence in WorkSafe Tas and that under the leadership of Ms Pearce there will be absolute adherence to our WorkSafe health and safety laws and regulations. I have every confidence in her ability to carry out her independent role as regulator.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. Through you, minister, welcome Ms Pearce. I have been provided with a copy of the statement of duties for the executive director for Ms Pearce's position of WorkSafe Tasmania. It was dated July 2020. I have a statement of duties about the position in front of me. It says that the role is to be operating, quote -

Under delegation from the appointed Regulator.

If the executive director is not the regulator and is operating under delegation, who is the regulator who is appointed under the Work Health and Safety Act?

Ms ARCHER - As I just confirmed, Ms Pearce has taken on the statutory role of regulator under the Work Health and Safety Act. The secretary can confirm that.

Ms PEARCE - That's correct, minister.

Dr WOODRUFF - So I don't understand and maybe I am misreading this, that this statement of duties for the executive director says about the position, and the section is called 'the role' and it talks about the role and says, under delegation from the appointed regulator.

Ms ARCHER - I am told Mr Evans can answer that question in relation to the statement of duties.

Mr EVANS - The statement of duties was constructed at a time when Ms Pearce was acting in that role. At that time she did what was, nonetheless, appointed regulator but it wasn't until such time as she was permanently in the role that she operates in that fashion. She now has a delegation from the secretary of the department under the act who is the appropriate body under the act to appoint her as regulator and that has occurred.

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, will this be updated?

Mr EVANS - It will be, yes.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you.