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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2918..


Workers compensation

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister for Industrial Relations-a second brilliant minister for industrial relations under the Stanhope government, I might say, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Come to the question, Mr Hargreaves.

MR HARGREAVES: Minister, yesterday in this place during debate on the Civil Law (Wrongs) Amendment Bill, and again this morning with Chris Uhlmann on ABC radio, the Leader of the Opposition, in discussing the recent changes to the Workers Compensation Act, stated:

What we are seeing is a calming in the premiums-is the indications I'm receiving and we are seeing a drop in the number of claims.

Minister, was it this sea of tranquillity in premium setting that led to you write to all workers compensation insurers recently?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Hargreaves for this question. Can I begin by saying that the introduction of the new workers compensation arrangements with their increased emphasis on early intervention and rehabilitation has the government's wholehearted support. However, my office has had many reports and representations from employers and industry bodies such as the Master Builders Association citing increases to their premiums. For example, there are six large bricklaying companies operating in the ACT employing 150 workers that have all had increases in their workers compensation premiums for the current year, with the largest company recording an increase from 19 per cent to 29 per cent of payroll.

In response to this, on 25 July I wrote to all workers compensation insurers requiring that they provide me with information on how they calculated their premiums for 2002-03, along with information on adjustments that they made to their premium setting models to accommodate the changes to the workers compensation arrangements.

So where Mr Smyth sees calm, others see turbulence. I do not know whom you are listening to, Mr Smyth, or who is advising you on this but I am hearing a very different story, and that is why this government has acted. So if the Leader of the Opposition is looking for examples of where a scheme with a focus on early intervention and rehabilitation will reduce premiums or even stop premiums from increasing, then he will have to look elsewhere because there is no evidence that we have seen that there have been reductions in premiums and certainly no calming of those premiums.

Insurers need to meet their obligations under the act and I intend to use my powers under that act to ensure that businesses and their workers' interests are protected.

MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Mr Hargreaves?


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