Publications / Work Health and Safety

1 Jul 13
UPDATE: WHS Mining Bill passed by the NSW Legislative Council and now awaiting royal assent

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Work Health and Safety (Mines) Bill 2013 (NSW)

The Work Health and Safety (Mines) Bill 2013 (NSW) (Bill) was passed by the NSW Legislative Council on 25 June 2013, creating a single regime for the regulation of mining and coal mining under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW).  McCullough Robertson’s workplace relations and safety specialists Partner Jeremy Kennedy and Senior Associate Suzie Leask, provide an update on the status of the new mining legislation.

Further to our recent client alert setting out the detail of the new mining specific work health and safety legislation and our subsequent follow up ‘before and after’ analysis, the Bill has now been passed by the NSW Legislative Council and is awaiting royal assent.  The passing of the Bill before 1 July 2013 will ensure that New South Wales secures reward funding of $79 million under the Council of Australian Government’s National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy.

Harmonisation of WHS laws

The Bill will replace the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act 2002 (NSW) and the Mine Health and Safety Act 2004 (NSW) and is designed to be read as part of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) in order to complete the harmonisation process for WHS laws in New South Wales.

We note that the final piece of the harmonisation puzzle, the draft regulations under the Bill, is still yet to be released.  However the government has continued to indicate that there will be a ‘sensible’ commencement date for the new legislation and an extended industry consultation period of 6-8 weeks on the draft regulations given that they will detail many of the obligations referred to under the Bill. 

Parliament addresses issues

Interestingly, the second reading before the Legislative Council addressed the concerns recently raised by McCullough Robertson Lawyers with regard to the boards of inquiry constituted under the Bill and the potential for witnesses to have no right to silence and potentially incriminate themselves.  The Legislation Review Committee indicated that these concerns relating to extensive powers of boards of inquiry will be balanced by the protections afforded under section 58(6) of the Bill which provides that a natural person will not be exposed to criminal proceedings if they object at the time to answering the question or if they were not warned that they could object.  The NSW Legislative Council second reading speech can be accessed here.

Further details

For further details on the changes under the new Bill, please see the handy ‘before and after’ comparison table provided in our previous alert which we have included here again for your reference.  We will continue to keep you informed on the commencement date of the Bill and the proposed consultation period on the draft regulations through further client publications and on LinkedIn.

Click to view the WHS Mines Legisation Comparative Table

Useful Links

The full text of the Work Health and Safety (Mines) Bill 2013 (NSW) can be found here.

For up to the hour updates on developments in relation to work health and safety laws, link in with Jeremy Kennedy, Suzie Leask and Andrea Stolarchuk on LinkedIn, subscribe to WHS – NSW Mine Safety Law discussion group on LinkedIn or follow Jeremy on Twitter @WHSLawyer.

Focus covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. Focus is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.

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