Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 3063..
MS GALLAGHER: The exposure draft I am tabling today proposes amendments to the Workers Compensation Act 1951 and the Workers Compensation Supplementation Fund Act 1980. The ACT private sector workers compensation scheme provides compensation to workers for injuries arising out of, or in the course of, their employment. Significant amendments to the scheme in 2001 introduced a focus on injury management and sustainable return to work for injured workers. These amendments were intended to reduce administrative costs under the scheme.
The workers compensation scheme has two safety net arrangements to ensure that all injured workers will have access to benefits on injury. The nominal insurer provisions under the Workers Compensation Act 1951 provide access to benefits for injured workers who are employed by an employer who does not have a compulsory insurance policy. The workers compensation supplementation fund provides access to benefits where an insurer collapses or is otherwise unable to meet the costs of claims against workers compensation policies issued by the insurer. Neither of these safety net arrangements supports the use of injury management and return to work processes for injured workers and they are inconsistent with the intent of the scheme. To address this inconsistency, the ACT government proposes to amend the legislation to improve the effectiveness of the scheme.
I table the draft Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2005 (No 2) as an exposure draft for consultation with key stakeholders and the wider community. The amendment bill would combine the arrangements for both safety net schemes in the Workers Compensation Act 1951 and repeal the Workers Compensation Supplementation Fund Act 1980. These proposals will also improve accountability and transparency for the safety net arrangements.
The amendment bill proposes establishing a scheme for certificates of currency that will provide information about the coverage of a compulsory insurance policy held by an employer. Employers will be able to ask insurers for an up-to-date certificate of currency every six months. An authorised person, including an inspector or worker's representative, will be able to ask an employer for the certificate. Principals entering into subcontracting arrangements will also be able to ask for a certificate of currency. These provisions will ensure that parties with an interest in the scope of the employer's insurance coverage will be able to access information in a timely way.
A number of minor policy amendments to improve the operation of the scheme are also proposed in the amendment bill. These include improving consistent use of language and terms in the act; treating all periods of absence from work due to injuries as cumulative; ensuring that arbitration costs associated with individual workers' compensation claims are charged to insurers as part of the claim; and introducing publicity orders against persons convicted of offences against the act. The exposure draft of the bill, and the accompanying explanatory statement, can be accessed on the ACT government's legislation register. Submissions on the draft legislation can be made by close of business Tuesday, 20 September 2005.
Ms Gallagher presented the following paper: