Does the punishment fit the crime? Exclusive Interview with Marie Boland

Mar 19
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Recently, Marie Boland, who undertook an independent review of Australia’s Work Health and Safety laws and is a keynote speaker at the upcoming WHS Prosecution & Enforcement conference, was interviewed by Kevin Jones on the SafetyAtWorkBlog.

Below is an exclusive excerpt of that article:

Kevin Jones: I want to jump to Industrial Manslaughter in a way. How difficult was it for you to get beyond the ideologies that often are within the arguments and the discussions on this issue?

Marie Boland It was certainly one of the more challenging parts of the review for me, because I wanted to remove myself from emotion and ideology and when I was at Safe Work, one of my objectives was to make things easier for families in whatever way I could and that was one of the reasons I left in the end because I felt I hadn’t been able to achieve that.

And that’s why I also said to Safe Work I really want to get some external legal advice cause [although] I’m a lawyer by background, … there are people out there with more experience in the law in Industrial Manslaughter than me. As a policy person for years in South Australia, I briefed lots of times that we don’t need an Industrial Manslaughter offence.

But I did change my mind. At the beginning of the review I probably would be leaning more towards a recommendation that we don’t need it, but by the end of the review and having considered all the research and advice and looking at the Queensland provisions….. and also I was very persuaded by the Senate Inquiry, which was happening parallel to my review and the evidence that was presented there.

…… also the more I thought about it, I thought well if we are serious and committed to harmonisation and, incrementally, jurisdictions are putting in their own versions of Industrial Manslaughter then, and we’ll end up perhaps with some jurisdictions with, relying on the criminal law others with enough sense in their Work Health and Safety Act…. I felt that some sort of lead should be taken to make sure that it [fit] within the framework.

This excerpt has been reproduced with permission.

Ms Boland will be sharing her insights on “Does the punishment fit the crime? Reflections on the 2018 model WHS laws review” at the WHS Prosecution & Enforcement Conference on the 19th & 20th June 2019 in Melbourne.

She will be discussing on:

  • Reflecting on the review report and the differing views about the level of punishment needed as a deterrent in the WHS context
  • Presenting some personal views about WHS offences, penalties and sentencing and the future of WHS enforcement practices


Submitted by Kevin Jones

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