Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2879..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
We have put our money where our mouth is. You can see that in this budget. Over $500 million worth of funding is directly targeted at addressing disadvantage and ensuring that we are an inclusive society. What has driven this government for the last 21/2 years and will continue to drive us into the next term is our determination to ensure that, above all else, this town actually does live up to its egalitarian ideals, to those ideals of a fair go for everybody, a determination to ensure that every child born into this community has an equal opportunity.
We are working hard in a focused and strategic way to deliver those outcomes. We have the runs on the board and we will continue to deliver those runs through attention to our priorities, through attention to the strategic plan and through attention, commitment and the dedication that we have, as a progressive Labor government, to ensuring that we meet the needs of the disadvantaged in this regard over and above the needs of everybody else.
MRS CROSS: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer, Mr Quinlan. Minister, as you are aware, the WorkCover dispute with Wizard has taken well over two years to be addressed adequately, and the substantial nature of the payments demonstrates the validity of the original claim where no expenses were paid. The costs, as reported to the Estimates Committee, were over $500,000. This, combined with the impact on any organisation of having to handle such a dispute and go without such substantial payments for so long, must have been very damaging.
Minister, has the WorkCover dispute with Wizard been resolved; and, if so, what payments have been made for the work undertaken, for interest, for expenses and for damages?
MR QUINLAN: Let me clarify one point. It just seems that what we have faced a couple of times in questioning in estimates is: Wizard, 100 per cent right; WorkCover, or government, 100 per cent wrong.
Had we settled with Wizard for what they asked for initially, it would have been a whole lot more than they got now. Therefore, it follows that the process of evaluation and negotiation has had an effect. I can't guarantee you that, if there had been different parties, the result might have been different by some amount or other, because this has turned out to be a very difficult process to sort out-and in no small part difficult to sort out because Wizard kept lousy records. Wizard was very bad at getting authorisation for the work that they did. Unfortunately, WorkCover didn't keep refined records either. The obligation, I would have thought, would have fallen on the bloke who was supplying it to make sure he got an order before he did it, because he's the one that is providing, he's the one that's going to make the claim.
However, the thing is, as far as I know, settled; as far as I know, I think we have got a signature to say "finished"; it is done. I can't be absolutely definite, but I would be 99.9 per cent sure that, had Wizard had this arrangement with any other commercial body, they would not have got the fair treatment that they have got in the way we worked through this process.