House of Assembly (2018-07-25)
The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (12:51): I am pleased to rise and support this motion on the National Farm Safety Week. In its 20th year, the National Farm Safety Week was held across the country last week, and this year’s theme was ‘innovative, safe and healthy’. The agriculture industry, as we know—and I am sure as the previous member for Schubert would know, being a primary producer himself—is one of the state’s largest employers, and ongoing safety continues to be fundamental in sustainability and in securing a future, particular for our generations.
I know only too well, as the member for Hammond and I am sure others on this side have experienced, seen or encountered, just how easily accidents happen on-farm when people are dealing with machinery and equipment that have a lot of moving parts. Rotary types of equipment that have drives and blades are particularly fraught with danger. I, too, have known that over time. The primary producer likes to be able to do things that normally two or three men should be doing, but they take it upon themselves to get the job done, and in some way, shape or form that does create a level of risk, and in some instances we have seen on-farm accidents.
It is also important to note that the primary industry sector is becoming more innovative. They are becoming more aware of the risk with on-farm practices. Sadly, we still see accidents happen and we still see some life lost on-farm, but it is important to note that farmers are self-regulating. I would like to pay homage to the South Australian farm safety advocate, Alex Thomas, South Australia’s rural woman of the year. She runs her own work health and safety consulting business and has helped launch the ‘Plant a seed for safety’ social media campaign. She is also encouraging the use of the hashtag; it is not #RegionsMatter but #SaveALifeListenToYourWife. Ms Thomas is aiming to empower—
Mr Pederick: That’s good advice on any day.
The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE: Indeed. She is aiming to empower rural women to share their stories of success in safety, to increase their confidence and to make them more aware of their ability to influence change. Ms Thomas said, ‘Many rural women are innately risk averse and are often in a position to influence change and improve safety.’ No farmer or fisher wants to see someone get hurt while at work, and paperwork does not save lives. So we need to look beyond box-ticking policies and procedures and we need to make sure that our equipment is safe, that it has the guards on. I, myself, am a culprit. I have had PTO shafts on equipment and removed guards to grease points, I have removed guards to make life a little easier, but then there is always that point of risk.
What I would say is the recognition of National Farm Safety Week cannot be understated, particularly on this side. I do not think anyone on the opposition has rural holdings or rural properties. Many on this side do, so we understand the risk and we understand what safety means on-farm. It is understanding how we can help. If we walk past equipment and see that the guards are missing or things are unsafe, we know just to have a quiet, subtle word to make sure that things are as they should be.
I would also like to acknowledge SafeWork SA. They are the body that looks after safe work here. The agriculture industry is one of the advocates that they put issues in front of. They put challenges up, but we have to make sure that our workplace is safe and, due to the combination of all those hazards, including the chemicals, noise, dust and sun that we work in a safe environment. I commend the motion to the house.
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