State of the Nation: The Irrepressible Rise of Industrial Manslaughter Offences

PLENARY
22 May 2019
13:30 - 14:15
ICC SYDNEY, COCKLE BAY ROOM

State of the Nation: The Irrepressible Rise of Industrial Manslaughter Offences

Many years, the appetite for industrial manslaughter offences on the statute books has waxed and waned.  But with the events in Queensland with multiple fatalities at Eagle Farm and Dreamworld in 2016, Australia saw the additional impetus for the introduction of such offences.

Now, PCBUs in Queensland face penalties of up to $10 million and ‘senior officers’ face gaol terms up to 20 years for industrial manslaughter. Up until Queensland’s October 2017 provisions commenced, only the ACT had such an offence on its statute books.

Now it seems that it is only a matter of time before industrial manslaughter offences are introduced right around the nation with announcements for such changes being made by Governments in WA, Victoria and by the opposition in NSW throughout 2018. In October 2018, a Federal Senate Inquiry Report also recommended that industrial manslaughter offences be introduced on a harmonised basis seeing merit in using the Queensland provisions as a starting point.

This keynote will present an argument as to why the Queensland provisions may not represent the best starting proposition for drafting the offence provisions around the country, explore the impact upon the rest of the penalties regime under health and safety laws (in particular the categories of offences), provide insights into manslaughter cases before the courts, outline the relevant recommendations of the Boland Review released in 2019 and discuss the ramifications of industrial manslaughter offences for health and safety in practice.  The keynote will provide an overview of recommended future directions for systems and processes in industry as organisations and their officers look to respond to these legal developments.