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Author Topic: "Secret Chinese Embassy" Breaches Australia's Law on Workplace Safety

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http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/national/chinese-embassy-under-scrutiny-as-photos-show-8216highly-dangerous8217-worker-conditions/story-fncz7kyc-1226668060345

AUSTRALIA will fire off a "please explain" to the Chinese Government following evidence of "highly dangerous" worker conditions at its top-secret new embassy in Canberra.

In a move that could strain relations with the communist superpower, China has been accused of playing "Russian roulette" with workers' lives and breaching a confidential agreement.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has ordered his department to "immediately" contact the Chinese Embassy and raise concerns over safety following an investigation by News Ltd.

A series of photos - taken by News Ltd photographer Gary Ramage - reveals construction workers operating in what experts claim are highly unsafe "third world" conditions.

In a deal struck while Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister, China is allowed to ship in a team of workers on diplomatic visas to build the embassy - with local workplace safety officers and union officials banned from the site.

But photographic evidence reveals a raft of likely breaches of Australian building standards and occupational health and safety laws.



Three workers are viewed digging a deep overhead trench which has not been reinforced to prevent dangerous cave-ins. Under Australian laws, any trench with a depth of 1.5 metres or more must undergo a series of safety measures.

And two of the three workers also appear to be without even basic safety gear, such as hard hats and other protective equipment.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Mark McCabe, said the photos raised "serious concerns" over safety and suggested it showed China's "poor culture" when it came to building standards.

Dean Hall, head of the Construction Forestry Mining and Engineering Union's ACT branch, accused China of playing "Russian roulette" with the workers, who are understood to number around 30 and who are immune from local laws.

"These photos leave little doubt that China is breaching local building and OH &S standards," Mr Hall said, calling for the site - just a few minutes from federal parliament - to be closed down.

"Just taking (the photos) at face value, it would appear to be evidence that the Chinese construction process is not complying with Australian law," Mr McCabe said.                                                   
 
He met with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to raise his concerns after being shown copies of the photos.
The revelations of unsafe working conditions comes as China has come under attack - particularly from the United States - for alleged cyber-hacking activities.

Senior US officials in Canberra are deeply intrigued by the new Chinese embassy - which is off-limits to Australian workers and union officials.

A spokesman for the Foreign Minister said the Government "would be very concerned if there were any breaches of OH &S laws".

"The Minister will instruct his Department (DFAT) to raise this matter immediately with the Chinese, in accordance with our agreement with them," Senator Carr's spokesman said.

Despite repeated requests for comment, the Chinese Embassy in Canberra declined to respond to allegations that it had compromised safety conditions on the site, which will act as an extension to its existing consul.

Originally built in the 1970s, the Chinese Embassy was the subject of a mid-1990s scandal when it was revealed Australia had bugged the building - in cooperation with other countries.

A spokeswoman for DFAT said the "arrangement with China requires that the new Chinese Embassy project complies with Australian occupational health and safety requirements. A requirement to comply with ACT building standards, inspections and occupancy certifications has also been agreed".

"In meetings with the Embassy that have been about or touched on this project, we have consistently underlined our expectations on this matter, and if necessary will do so again," the spokeswoman said.



Why the hell have the Chinks been given the all clear to bring in their own construction workers?
Why the hell are they immune to being punished by our laws when this building is on our turf?
What the hell is going on around here?
The Price is Reich!

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