Company slams ‘lazy’ death laws

A COMMERCIAL fishing company which agreed to spend $1.2 million after the death of one of its workers says the Territory Government's push to introduce industrial manslaughter laws is "intellectually lazy" and a "populist kneejerk reaction".

Deckhand Ryan Donoghue, 20, was electrocuted in 2013 while on board an Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd prawn trawler after a wave breached the deck while he was using an electric angle grinder.

NT WorkSafe dropped charges against Austral in 2018 after the company agreed to spend $967,700 on improving health and safety aboard its vessels.

Austral had already spent $200,000 on safety upgrades prior to the undertaking.

 

 

Ryan Donoghue was electrocuted aboard a prawn trawler.
Ryan Donoghue was electrocuted aboard a prawn trawler.

 

 

In a submission to an NT parliamentary committee examining the proposed legislation, the company's chief executive David Carter said Mr Donoghue's death made Austral Fisheries "uniquely qualified" to comment on the amendments.

"Our direct initiatives have sparked a cultural movement in the fishing industry that will over deliver on the terms of the undertaking and create an enduring legacy for the deceased worker and his family," Mr Carter wrote.

"This would not have been achieved with punitive measures.

"Simply increasing punitive measures as a populist knee jerk reaction to law making is intellectually lazy and not at all conducive to the progress that can be done when everyone is pulling together."

 

Austral Fisheries CEO David Carter on one of his trawlers in Cairns, who runs 10 prawn trawlers in the Northern Prawn Fishery runs from Cape York in Queensland to Western Australia, back in 2012.
Austral Fisheries CEO David Carter on one of his trawlers in Cairns, who runs 10 prawn trawlers in the Northern Prawn Fishery runs from Cape York in Queensland to Western Australia, back in 2012.

 

Industrial manslaughter laws could lead to less investment in safety as a result of "increased insurance premiums and reduced appetite for investors to inject funds into high-risk industries", he said.

It's expected the new industrial manslaughter laws will be in force in the Territory by the end of the year. Currently, only individuals can be charged with industrial manslaughter with no equivalent penalties for corporations.

Industrial manslaughter is already an offence in Queensland and the ACT.

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