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Victorian Premier rejects OHS harmonisation

1 March 2012

Here's what the Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu has said:

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu on 3AW, 3 February 2012

And, can I make an observation about one area, the Commonwealth through the COAG process is seeking to impose new occupational health and safety rules, and that will take Victoria backwards. It might take some of the other states forwards, but the OHS rules in Victoria have been much better. To take Victorian businesses backwards now, under OHS, would be a major cost, particularly to small and medium enterprises---we don't want to do that, we've argued against that, and, we think that it's important to continue to argue that and not simply have the Commonwealth tick a box saying they've imposed new OHS rules on a national basis. If Victoria goes backwards on that, that'll be an extra cost to business.

Transcript: Ted Baillieu MLA, Doorstop [Wednesday 1 February 2012 9:00am]

Can I just ask you about that? COAG [inaudible] has put a report out today saying states, including Victoria, are at risk of missing the deadline on some of those reforms, including OH&S. Is there any chance of you agreeing to come on board, or are you holding firm and refusing to sign up [inaudible]?

Well, the implication of your question is that we should agree, regardless of the situation, and we're not going to do that. We are keen to have national reforms, and we will support that, but if they set back Victorian business, then that will flow through to productivity decline and job losses. We're not going to do that. We are going to push for the best results, not the average results, and I'm quite unashamed about that.

Are you prepared to wear the potential consequences that you're going to miss out on a slice of almost half a billion dollars' worth of Commonwealth funding?

Well, you're leaping to conclusions. We've already seen the Commonwealth in discussion about the OH&S rules, indicating that maybe they haven't got it right. Now, some of the states leapt on board early and that's now having repercussions in the volunteer sector. And they were warned about these things, and they didn't undertake the regulatory impact statement they should've done. We did that, it's come back and we've referred the discussion to the Commonwealth. Other states have joined us in expressing those concerns. We are not going to allow Victorian business to be set back in the name of going to the average on national reform. We should be pursuing best practice in this country, not average practice.

But if it comes to missing out on that payment, are you prepared to hold firm on your position?

Well, you are, you're inviting me to choose between a so-called reward payment for an additional cost on business.

The government might invite you to.

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