Prime Minister Julia Gilla has vowed to keep pushing New South Wales to honour a deal on national work safety laws, after NSW Premier Kristina Keneally said today that her government won’t back down to Gillard’s ‘sabre rattling’
Ms Keneally said it was disappointing that she only became aware of Ms Gillard’s threat to withhold 144 million dollars of funding to the NSW government through media reports on Monday, and accused a “heavy-handed” commonwealth of ambushing the state.
She said NSW “overwhelmingly” supported the harmonisation of workplace laws, but thought the state should be granted exemptions to keep provisions on the onus of proof and unions’ right to prosecute employers.
“NSW has the best occupational health and safety standards in the nation,” she said.
“We have always insisted that our safety standards should not be weakened as part of a national harmonisation process and we will continue to insist upon this.
“We have at every ministerial council meeting insisted that harmonisation should be a rising tide that lifts all boats.
“It should come as no surprise to the commonwealth that this is NSW’s position.”
Bandt sides with NSW
And in a new twist, the Australian Greens’ sole federal lower house MP Adam Bandt has released a statement supporting the New South Wales government in its fight with the federal government.
Bandt says the Greens support the move to uniform national laws for workplace safety, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of existing protections.
He says the right to prosecute and the requirement for employers to show they’ve fulfilled their duty of care are important aspects of the OHS regime that have been hard won by workers in NSW.