Work for the Dole death: 'Put Michaelia Cash on the stand'

MORE THAN 1000 people have signed a petition calling on Queensland Minister of Industrial Relations Grace Grace to charge Senator Michaelia Cash over the 2016 death of Joshua William Park-Fing.

Eighteen-year-old Mr Park-Fing died after a Work for the Dole workplace incident at the Toowoomba Showgrounds in 2016 while Senator Cash was the Federal Minister for Employment.

The petition, started by the Australian Unemployed Workers Union, has 1025 signatures at the time of writing.

"Why didn't you charge Minister Cash - the person actually responsible for administering the work for the dole program?," the petition asks.

Josh Park-Fing and his mother Jenny Fing
Josh Park-Fing and his mother Jenny Fing Contributed

"Minister Grace, you need to hold Michaelia Cash and the Coalition accountable for this tragedy. No one is above the law.

"Put Michaelia on the stand."

Minister Grace did not directly comment on the petition, but did offer her condolences to the family of Mr Park-Fing.

"Any death at a place of work is one too many and I have the greatest sympathy for the family. The incident was fully investigated by Workplace, Health and Safety and is now before the courts," she said.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further."

The Queensland Office of Industrial Relations in November laid four charges over the death of Mr Park-Fing.

An Office of Industrial Relations spokesman said the Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland, NEATO Employment Services Pty Ltd and Work for the Dole project coordinator, Adrian Strachan, have been charged for alleged breaches of the Work Health Safety Act 2011 after the death of Mr Park-Fing.

Mr Park-Fing was 18 years old when he fell from a flatbed tractor trailer, struck his head and died.

The teenager was a participant in the Commonwealth Government's Work for the Dole program, and through NEATO Employment Services Pty Ltd was placed with the Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland.

The Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland faces two charges of not ensuring the health and safety of workers influenced or directed by it.

The OIR spokesman said it was alleged RASQ failed to implement adequate systems to prevent workers riding on the trailer, including ensuring workers were adequately supervised.

Further, the second charge alleges RASQ could have better maintained the tractor in accordance with its duty to provide plant without risks to health and safety. It faces a maximum fine of $1.5m for each charge.

NEATO Employment Services is charged for an alleged failure to comply with its primary duty of care to ensure the safety of the Work for the Dole participants while they are at work in the host employer's business or undertaking.

It is alleged NEATO did not provide adequate supervision when Work for the Dole supervisors were absent from their respective workplaces.

It faces a maximum fine of $500,000.

Work for the Dole project co-ordinator, Adrian Strachan, has been charged over failing to comply with his duty as a worker.

Mr Strachan was tasked with overseeing Work for the Dole supervisors, the placement of Work for the Dole workers and work at host employers.

It is alleged he did not follow NEATO's policies or take reasonable steps to ensure they were followed by workers.

If found guilty, he faces a maximum fine of $50,000.

The matters were adjourned in December.