Any penalty to be paid by SA Police in relation to workplace death to go to improving SafeWork SA investigation processes

Treasurer Rob Lucas said today the State Government acknowledges an intention by SA Police to enter an early guilty plea in relation to the tragic workplace death of employee Ms Debra Summers at the Echunga Training Reserve in October 2016.

In September, SafeWork SA charged two government departments (SAPOL and DPTI) in relation to Ms Summers’ tragic death.

During a hearing before the South Australian Employment Tribunal on Wednesday, Frances Nelson QC – acting for SA Police – said her instructions from the Police Commissioner were to ‘enter a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity’.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012, SA Police are liable for a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

“Normally, any fine imposed under the Act would come straight to Treasury into consolidated accounts,’’ said Mr Lucas.

“However, in this case, it’s my intention to instruct Treasury to set aside any penalty payable as a result of this case and ensure it is used wholly to improve SafeWork SA investigation processes after taking into account any recommendations of the ICAC evaluation.

“It’s imperative that we have a highly functioning and productive independent regulator in SafeWork SA and we look forward to Commissioner Lander’s recommendations in due course.

“Ms Summers’ death was a tragedy, and my thoughts are with her family at this time.”

Ms Nelson QC, who also acts for DPTI, requested an adjournment from SAET to receive further instructions on that department’s position.

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