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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 12 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3862..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

Under the proposed reforms, insurers in the future will be required to take a more proactive role in the treatment, rehabilitation and return to work of an injured worker. They will also have to demonstrate that they have effective cost - containment measures in place in relation to medical, rehabilitation and legal services if they are to maintain their approval to operate in the ACT. All of these measures should lead to better outcomes for injured workers and contribute to minimising premium costs.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the Assembly Select Committee on the Workers' Compensation System in the ACT reported earlier this year and in August I tabled the government's response to that report. I encourage members to examine closely the government's draft bill and the compliance model that it will bring to workers compensation. We believe that it is a comprehensive approach to compliance under the act.

Some in the community, who clearly expressed their views in the Workers Compensation Monitoring Committee report, believe that the best way to reduce the cost of workers compensation premiums is to limit plaintiff access to common law settlements. The government has given this issue extensive consideration and has resolved that there is a lack of evidence from other jurisdictions to support this proposition.

Clearly, limiting access to common law remedies does have a cost reduction effect in the short run. However, within a few years of its introduction, the benefits are substantially eroded. The actuarial study conducted for the Workers Compensation Monitoring Committee confirmed this.

The proposed package of reforms to the workers compensation framework of the territory is extensive, socially responsible, and beneficial for all stakeholders. To assist stakeholders and scheme participants in their consideration of this draft legislation, officers from my department will be available to provide preliminary briefings from Monday of next week. I also offer these briefings to any interested members of the Assembly.

Meetings will also be programmed for more detailed discussions with stakeholders, together with the opportunity for written submissions to be provided to the government early in the new year. In the first quarter of 2001 my department will prepare the information received for consideration by government. I anticipate that the government will bring legislation to the Assembly early in the second quarter of 2001 following the conclusion of this process.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I commend the draft bill to members and encourage their support for it.

PRESENTATION OF PAPERS

Mr Moore presented the following papers:

Hepatitis C - Lookback program and financial assistance scheme report as at 30 September 2000.


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