The New South Wales Opposition has accused the Finance Minister Greg Pearce of deliberately fudging answers in parliament, over Workcover’s decision to withdraw a number of prosecutions.
In February this year, Workcover tried to adjourn 22 prosecutions against employers, arguing it needed to review the cases in light of last year’s changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
When the Opposition asked Greg Pearce why, the Minister replied he did not know.
Labor’s Adam Searle says documents now made public show in mid-February Mr Pearce, along with the Resources Minister Chris Hartcher and the Attorney-General, had agreed to ensure that all prosecutions pending under the Act should be stayed.
“Two weeks before his answer in the Upper House he knew,” he said.
“He knew there was an agreement with the three ministers – on March 6th he seems to have had a failure of memory.”
Mr Searle claims other documents suggest Mr Pearce wanted to see if changes to the Act could be applied retrospectively.
“There is an email from senior officials of the Workcover authority to the Chief Operating Officer and the CEO indicating that the idea of retrospective laws is ‘under serious consideration by the minister’s office’,” he said.
Greg pearce’s office denies the claims.
A spokesman says the Minister has no intention of introducing retrospective legislation and that he gave no direction to Workcover in relation to prosecutions.