Simon Corbell has announced he’s floating an exposure draft to give the magistrates some new hats to wear on industrial and health and safety matters:
Mr Corbell will today table an exposure draft of the Magistrates Court (Industrial Proceedings) Amendment Bill 2013 in the Legislative Assembly to open the public discussion on the government proposed legislation.
“Ensuring workers in the ACT get home safely is one of this government’s highest priorities so we are working to strengthen the capacity of the court system to focus on industrial and workplace health and safety issues,” Mr Corbell said.
“This exposure draft also starts the process to implement recommendation 22 of the Getting Home Safely report which suggested the government appoint an industrial magistrate to deal with unsafe worksite practices.
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“This legislation would bring the ACT into line with all other Australian jurisdictions, except Tasmania, that already have specialist arrangements within their Magistrates Courts to hear and decide issues related to workplace health and safety, including workplace accidents and deaths.”
The Industrial Court will be able to hear and decide all workers compensation matters and all industrial civil claims up to $250,000 currently before the Magistrates Court.
The exposure draft is, at the time of writing, not available but who knows how that can change.
UPDATE: The exposure draft is now available.
FURTHER UPDATE: The Law Society has expressed some surprise:
The Government’s decision to establish an Industrial Relations Court raises many questions.
This proposal does not add further resources, but designates a magistrate to specialise in that area and undertake the bulk of that kind of work, much as with the Children’s Court Magistrate.
The Society applauds any proposal to improve work safety in the Territory and values any further expertise that an Industrial Magistrate and Court will bring.
Unfortunately, the proposal does not increase resources, and in fact loads up the Industrial Magistrate with matters that are currently dealt with in the civil jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court.
It is difficult to understand the extent of the jurisdiction proposed and whether or not it is workable as it purports to include common law work related compensation claims for damages with unlimited jurisdiction.