Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1684 ..
Mr Humphries: It did not happen under Labor!
MR BERRY: Mr Humphries says that it did not happen under Labor. We did not blame the messenger. Mrs Carnell is always blaming somebody else for her woes. It is about time that she took responsibility for it.
Mr Kaine: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Are we here to have Mr Berry present a report of a select committee of this Assembly, or are we here to hear a political attack on the Chief Minister? I think Mr Berry needs to be told to keep to the matter in hand.
MR SPEAKER: I must uphold the point of order in relation to relevance.
MR BERRY: My point exactly, Mr Speaker. I was drawing attention to the fact that Comcare were immediately blamed for the problem because they were the ones that brought the message to the Government. It was the old "shoot the messenger" approach; it is always somebody else's fault. You have to take responsibility for managing the Government Service. It is not like running a corner store. Mrs Carnell will be coming to understand that. The truth of this matter, Mr Speaker, is far more complex. I hope that the Government can take its blinkers off and take a fresh approach to the issue.
The committee has taken evidence from many in the community and has come up with a unanimous cross-party report, including a set of recommendations which address the problems. We have done that without ignoring the needs of the workers in the ACT Government Service. This is a report which recognises that our workers are the greatest asset, and if we keep them healthy they will work more effectively and efficiently. It also recognises that an area of failure is rehabilitation. That has been a common theme throughout the process.
It is of concern that during the course of the committee's inquiry the Government chose to move in the area of workers compensation without waiting for the committee's report. They devolved a whole range of people in the face of a direct request from the committee not to do so. They devolved these people away from the provision of occupational health and safety and rehabilitation. I think that was a demonstration of arrogance and contempt for the committee process. I think the Minister concerned with this, Mr De Domenico, is to be condemned for that action. We made a strong statement. He is getting condemnation from all directions. It might be hard for him to recognise where the condemnation comes from. I think that most of the people who have dealt with workers compensation understand that this Minister is not competent on these issues. The committee, as I said, wrote to the Government requesting that they respect the work of the committee, but we were ignored. That is contempt, and it is not something we are used to in this Assembly.
Our concern was about cutting out workers in the rehabilitation area. Rehabilitation needs more, not fewer, employees. It is in this area that there is scope to make great gains in improving the situation. The separate ACT Government Service is still young. Labor, in government, accepted that workers compensation issues were a problem.
Mr De Domenico: Why did you not do something about it?