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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 April 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1325 ..

Many of us here today, together with a substantial group of our partners in the community, have demonstrated their commitment to the operation of the ACT workers compensation scheme over a long period of time. This bill makes a minor but important amendment to the Workers Compensation Act 1951. The government would like to enact the bill’s minor but critical amendments during these sittings. The bill will extend the operation of the temporary provisions for acts of terrorism that currently appear in the territory’s workers compensation scheme.

In June of 2002 the act was amended to include temporary reinsurance provisions for acts of terrorism. The bill would extend the operation of the temporary reinsurance provisions in chapter 15 of the Workers Compensation Act that come into effect if territory workers are injured or killed in a terrorist attack. These provisions were passed following the withdrawal of private sector reinsurance coverage for acts of terrorism in early 2002, in the wake of the World Trade Centre attacks. The provisions ensure that workers’ compensation insurers can meet their obligations to fully insure for all work related risks by establishing a temporary emergency reinsurance fund that will come into operation only in the event of a terrorist attack.

The provisions were initially given a temporary life span covering attacks up to 1 April 2004 in order to encourage private sector reinsurers back into the market at the earliest opportunity. This Assembly agreed in 2003 to extend the provisions to 1 April 2006. However, recent world political events mean that only a couple of overseas companies are offering terrorism insurance as an individual product but with limited coverage and prohibitive premiums. Without temporary terrorism provisions, ACT employers and business would be obliged to pay excessively high workers compensation premiums. The attached bill would extend the application of the temporary provisions for acts of terrorism for a further three years. The amendment provisions would apply to terrorist events that occur before 1 April 2009. Such an extension will retain confidence in the ACT workers compensation scheme.

The temporary terrorism provisions include a sunset provision. This bill will move the expiry date of the provisions from 1 October 2006 to 1 October 2009. The government has retained the sunset provisions to continue pressure on the market to develop reinsurance products in the future. These provisions need to be passed during these sittings because the insurance industry informs me that insurers are already writing workers compensation policies covering periods after 1 April 2006, when the current provisions cease to apply.

Mr Speaker, I ask the Assembly to note the Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2005 and the explanatory notes to the bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr Mulcahy) adjourned to the next sitting.

Sitting suspended from 12.32 to 2.30 pm.

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