Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 18 March 2010) . . Page.. 1083 ..
advice to the minister or the fund manager if asked. This bill will require the committee to “keep informed of the operations of the DI fund” for the express purposes of providing advice to the minister or the fund manager, if requested.
The act requires the committee to exercise a number of other functions, and this amendment does not remove those obligations. This change to the committee’s role seems somewhat cosmetic, although it does seem to focus the committee’s attention more towards providing advice to the minister or fund manager, and this is not a bad thing.
The bill also carries a number of other minor and consequential amendments. The DI fund actuary is removed from the committee because that position no longer exists. The chief executive will take that position on the committee and will be the chair. The fund manager will no longer be able to ask the chair to call a meeting of the committee. That prerogative will remain with the chair or be at the request of the minister or at least two committee members. Another amendment will reset the quorum to be the chief executive or fund manager, plus two ministerial appointees.
Mr Speaker, these amendments seem sound and we are happy to support them.
MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (10.33): The Greens will be supporting this bill today. The default insurance fund plays an important role as a safety net for Canberran workers, to ensure that they are never left out of pocket by circumstances outside their control. Workers deserve protection and compensation for any injury that occurs at work. If an insurance company collapses, a business winds up before an injury becomes apparent or an employer is irresponsible and does not provide insurance, the government can and should step in. It is a great reflection of Australian society that we recognise this duty. All too many countries and companies around the world continue to fail to adequately protect or compensate their employees, and we should be proud of the responsibility we as a nation have taken for our workforce.
It is also commendable that the default insurance fund and its predecessors are required so infrequently. Whilst high-profile cases like the collapse of HIH garner a lot of media attention, it should be noted that most employers and insurers have largely done a good job in compensating employees injured on the job.
Whilst prevention measures through occupational health and safety can and should be constantly improved, businesses and government, through compulsory insurance and the default insurance fund, continue to play a vital role in those regrettable cases where someone is injured at work.
The Greens have supported the changes to the administration of the fund, and we recognise the benefits that this bill brings to the default insurance fund. This bill streamlines the advisory committee, whilst retaining the roles and input from all relevant stakeholders, and clarifies the role of the actuary. These steps contribute to having an effective and streamlined process for advising the administrator of the fund. We look forward to continuing the process of improving this small but critical fund and the role it plays.