The implementation of the model Work Health & Safety
Act (WHS Act) in all states and federal jurisdictions was
scheduled to commence on 1 January 2012. There was to be no
moratorium upon commencement.
As commencement date approaches, it is worth considering where
the various jurisdictions are placed in terms of their enactment of
model Acts, Regulations and Codes of Practice. With 31 days to go,
all jurisdictions are at different stages.
Jurisdictions Fully Enacted
Queensland was the first jurisdiction to adopt the model WHS Act
on 26 May 2011. The WHS Act 2011 (QLD) was assented to on 6 June
2011, with an expected commencement date of 1 January 2012. The
majority of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
(QLD) will commence with the Act.
Queensland is the only jurisdiction to have enacted both the
model Act and Regulations, in full preparation for a 1 January 2012
Jurisdictions Partly Enacted
New South Wales
In New South Wales, the WHS Act 2011 was passed by Parliament on
27 May 2011 and assented to on 7 June 2011 with a scheduled date of
commencement of 1 January 2012. The Regulations and Codes of
Practice are still yet to be adopted.
South Australia's WHS Act 2011 is still before the
Legislative Council. Notably, the South Australian Minister for
Industrial Relations reiterated his government's commitment
to a 1 January 2012 commencement.
In Tasmania, the Second Reading for the legislation occurred in
the Upper House on 22 November 2011. The Work Health and Safety
Bill 2011 (Tas) has not yet passed, but the desired 1 January
2012 commencement date has been acknowledged.
The Tasmanian government has indicated that it does not intend
to adopt the model Regulations in their entirety.
Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Capital Territory passed the WHS Act 2011 on 20
September 2011. The date of commencement is scheduled for 1 January
2012, however if no written notice is given nominating an earlier
date, the default date for commencement will be 29 March 2012.
The Northern Territory introduced legislation to its Lower House
on 27 October 2011. There is a stated intention to abide by a 1
January 2012 commencement date.
Federal Parliament passed the legislation on 24 November 2011
with a scheduled commencement date of 1 January 2012. There has
been no announcement about the Regulations or Codes of
The Western Australian government has been very clear in
indicating its intention to ensure that the implementation of any
amendments to its current WHS legislation will only be consistent
with the best interests of Western Australia. At this point, no
legislation is before parliament. A draft Bill is before the
Commission for Occupational Safety and Health for recommendation to
The Victorian government has urged deferment of the harmonised
provisions for 12 months. Whilst there has been no definitive
pronouncement of this intention, the fact that there is no WHS
legislation before parliament indicates that Victoria will
certainly not be ready for a 1 January 2012 commencement.
Where are the Regulations and Codes of Practice?
Queensland has been the only state to pass any Regulations to
interrelate with the Act. At time of writing, there had been an in
principle agreement between the various Ministers in relation to
the model WHS Regulations on 10 August 2011.
No jurisdiction has adopted the Codes of Practice. Indeed some
Codes are still out for public comment until 16 December 2011. Safe
Work Australia is recommending that Model Regulations and a first
round of Codes be implemented in each jurisdiction to facilitate a
commencement date of 1 January 2012.
One month out from the proposed commencement date, Western
Australia and Victoria have not even introduced the model Act into
parliament. On this basis, it is difficult to see how those states
would be in a position to meet the 1 January 2012 deadline.
As for the other states, territories and Commonwealth, only
Queensland appears capable of meeting the 1 January 2012 deadline
with relative ease.
Realistically, delivery of all model Codes of Practice will not
occur before 1 January 2012. On that basis, it is very difficult to
see the new provisions operating effectively, particularly given
the necessary interrelationship between the Act, the Regulations
and the Codes.
A further complication is the intention for no moratorium on the
commencement of the new provisions. Given the timeframe for
delivery of Regulations and Codes, no moratorium on a 1 January
2012 commencement date would objectively seem quite
The next 31 days will be very interesting...or busy.
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