At the Safety In Action Conference, organised by Australian Exhibitions & Conferences , over 200 protestors clad in helmets and safety vests heard CFMEU and AMWU leaders condemn the appearance of Janet Holmes à Court, Chairperson, John Holland.
According to Dave Noonan, CFMEU Construction Division National Secretary, Ms Holmes à Court’s keynote at Safety In Action Conference address, Leading Workplace Safety, was inappropriate. The construction giant had faced court action over a workplace death last year and second, Wayne Moore, was killed two weeks before the conference at the BHP Mt Whaleback Hub project.
Noonan said that a company with a dismal safety record was the keynote speaker at a major safety conference. John Holland should stop talking about safety and work with the unions to make their worksites safe.
Barry Silburn, National President, Safety Institute of Australia, defended Ms Holmes à Court’s inclusion in the conference programme and said that they share the same goal as the unions – to bring safety failures into the public arena and work towards preventing more deaths.
Silburn added that though they do not condone the systems failures at John Holland. Janet Holmes a Court’s presentation was an opportunity to hear what went wrong and of her plans to improve those systems. She acknowledged that John Holland had made mistakes and gave delegates the opportunity to learn from them.
The Safety In Action Conference also marked the 60th anniversary of host, the Safety Institute of Australia. The Safety In Action trade show is held concurrently at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.