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27 Aug 2020

HHG Legal Group’s Director, Murray Thornhill and Lawyer, Fintan Roberts provide a weekly snapshot of new and upcoming legislation.

20200423 WA Legislation Weekly

Welcome to a Legislation Daily update for 27 August 2020. There have been a few things bubbling away since the last update on 11 August 2020 – which are briefly captured below.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (Worker Screening) Bill 2020

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (Worker Screening) Bill 2020 was introduced on 12 August 2020 and provides for the screening of workers in connection with the operation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The implementation of nationally consistent NDIS worker screening is aimed towards making NDIS worker screening decisions increasingly portable across jurisdictions and employers within the NDIS. The Bill intends to introduce a high standard of screening for persons who engage in NDIS work – ensuring that those working with people with disabilities are safe to do so.

The EM to the Bill states that the legislation aims to contribute to the protection of people with disability from harm by:

  • deterring individuals who pose a risk of harm to people with disability from applying to work in the sector;
  • reducing the potential for providers to employ workers who pose an unacceptable risk of harm to people with disability; and
  • establishing consistent standards for worker screening.

There are also proposed provisions which allow for the investigation and prosecution of certain offences – such as for an applicant’s failure to notify of a change to a criminal record.

Forest Products Amendment Bill 2020

There was also the Forest Products Amendment Bill 2020, a private members bill introduced on 13 August 2020. This bill seeks to amend the Forest Products Act 2020, and appears to contain mainly minor administrative changes.

Electoral Bill 2020

The Electoral Amendment Bill 2020, which had its second reading in the Legislative Council on 13 August 2020, will amend the Electoral Act 1907 and contains provisions that seek to improve disclosure laws around political donations, introduce expenditure caps for election campaigns and ban foreign political donations. For example, political parties and associated entities will have to lodge quarterly returns to the Electoral Commission within 10 business days at the end of each quarter. Further, all donations from an individual or corporation that reach the specified amount of $1,000 or more accumulatively in the financial year will be disclosed in the quarter they reach $1,000.

Swan Valley Planning Bill 2020

The Swan Valley Planning Bill 2020 which was introduced on 19 August 2020 aims to protect the Swan Valley as a productive agricultural area within the Perth metropolitan area, in part by making a more straightforward and streamlined process that cuts out unnecessary red tape – replacing a three layer planning system with a single layer.

Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2020

The Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 had its second reading in the Legislative Council on 20 August 2020. The provisions contained within this extensive Bill seek to protect vulnerable workers, tackle wage theft and ensure a ‘level playing field’ for Western Australian employers. There are too many changes to canvas in this small piece, but at a general level the Bill aims to:

  • Remove exclusions from the definition of employee;
  • Introduce a stop workplace bullying jurisdiction for the Commission;
  • Introduce an equal remuneration jurisdiction for the Commission;
  • Vary the scope of private sector awards to ensure that all State private sector employees are covered by an award, other than those not traditionally covered;
  • modernise the Long Service Leave Act 1958 and introduce penalties for non-compliance;
  • increase penalties for breaches of employment laws, strengthen industrial inspector powers and enhance rights of authorised representatives;
  • allow the Industrial Magistrates Court to treat illegal contracts of employment as valid (such as those involving visa holders working in contravention of visa conditions);
  • address the lack of certainty as to which industrial relations jurisdiction applies to WA local government;
  • increase the compulsory retirement age of commissioners from 65 to 70 years;
  • prohibit various ‘wage theft’ arrangements and schemes, such as:
    • unreasonable requests by employers to have employees pay back their wages (cash backs); and
    • employment being advertised at less than the applicable minimum wage for the position.
  • Allow for successful claimants to recover legal costs in the case of systematic and deliberate underpayments; and
  • Provide broader powers for industrial inspectors

Road Traffic Amendment (Immobilisation, Towing and Detention of Vehicles) Bill 2020

The Road Traffic Amendment (Immobilisation, Towing and Detention of Vehicles) Bill 2020, introduced 17 June 2020, was also scrutinised in the Legislative Council in a second reading on 20 August 2020. This Bill addresses measures taken by private citizens to manage unwanted parking of motor vehicles. It focuses on wheel clamping and other means of vehicle immobilisation, as well as on towing and detention. It provides for compliance and enforcement activities and makes appropriate administrative arrangements. It will create new provisions in the Road Traffic Act 1974.

The Bill seeks to severely curtail the private use of immobilisation devices. There will be a towing option regulated under the Bill – with the Bill purporting to regulate when and how a vehicle may be towed from private land and a number of steps that must be taken before a vehicle that is parked on private property may be towed, including prescribed signage, approved towing agreements, and waiting periods. It addresses where the driver returns before the towing takes place. It provides for reporting requirements, prescribed charges and approved storage yards. There are also various other proposed changes.

Additional updates

The Public Health Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 was given assent on 21 August 2020, and the Iron Ore Processing (Minerology Pty Ltd) Agreement Amendment Bill 2020 was assented to on 13 August 2020. The Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 was assented to on 18 August 2020. These Bills are covered in greater detail in the 11 August 2020 legislation update.

 

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