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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 12 Hansard (15 October) . . Page.. 4564..


MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

the continued operations of the fund in accordance with principles of robust prudential management and allow the fund to build reserves that are sufficient to meet its liabilities—liabilities arising through the provision of benefits to injured workers.

The new model also reflects this government's commitment to transparent and accountable governance by allowing the cost of supporting the fund's operations to be expressed as a separate levy set out in premium notices provided to employers.

The introduction of an identifiable, quantified levy, as provided for under the regulations, will allow employers to budget accurately for this cost and move it from being a hidden burden on the responsible employers in the ACT business community. Ultimately, the levy represents the cost to those employers who do the right thing and protect the workers from non-compliance by some employers who fail to meet their statutory obligations.

For this reason it is essential that the insurance industry work cooperatively with the government to identify those employers who are not protecting their workers and, over time, decrease the cost for employers to do the right thing. This is something that we will be watching. This is not an opportunity for the insurance companies to make a quid. This is an opportunity for the insurance companies to reward those people doing the right thing and to penalise those people who are not doing the right thing.

In summary, Mr Speaker, this bill will enable the uninsured employer arm of the fund to meet its original statutory purpose of being a safety net for injured workers while introducing revised funding arrangements to ensure the fund's sustainability well into the future.

As a postscript, this housekeeping bill provides the foundation for the further reform work planned by the government that aims over time to see a rejuvenated workers compensation scheme established in the ACT that has firm objectives aimed at achieving the highest rate of compliance while delivering lower premiums to all employers in the ACT.

And absolutely finally, Mr Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the work of the Office of Industrial Relations in pursuing this particular matter. This matter is about the essential rights of people engaged in the workforce to be protected against injury and who need to be covered if injury does occur. In my view, this is a significant piece of human rights. We are entitled to a safe workplace. But I would also, at this stage, like to thank particularly Jim Mallett from my office for pursing this as vigorously as he has. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.


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