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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2328 ..


MR DE DOMENICO (Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Business, Employment and Tourism) (11.28): Mr Speaker, I present the Workers' Compensation (Amendment) Bill (No. 3) 1995, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR DE DOMENICO: Mr Speaker, I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, and members of the Assembly, the Workers' Compensation (Amendment) Bill (No. 3) 1995 amends the Workers' Compensation Act 1951 to remove the requirement for employers to take out workers compensation insurance to cover the professional sporting activities of sportspersons they employ and to remove the entitlement of those sportspersons to workers compensation for injuries resulting from their engagement in professional sporting activity. The amendment is necessary to bring the ACT into line with other jurisdictions and ensure the viability of ACT professional sport.

Under the present Workers' Compensation Act, professional sportspeople such as the Raiders footballers, the Cannons, and others are classed as being employees of the sporting organisations which have engaged them. This means that the sporting body is required to take out workers compensation for each player to cover them on the playing field. Members will appreciate that the risk of injury in sports such as football is high indeed and that workers compensation insurers demand correspondingly high premiums. Indeed, it has been indicated to the Government, and to others that I am aware of, that premiums as high as 60 per cent of remuneration might be charged to sporting bodies to cover their players. In preparing this legislation, the Government has responded to a plea for help from the ACT Rugby Union, supported by other sporting organisations, who are saying to us that the requirement to have workers compensation coverage for players is threatening the viability of the ACT's participation in national competitive sport.

Mr Speaker, this Government has given particular attention to fostering the business environment in the ACT. Sporting teams such as the Canberra Raiders and the Cannons, and others, play an important role in promoting employment, business and tourism generally, and they also give a lot of pleasure to a lot of people. This Government will not allow a situation where our competitive edge is lost because of imposts on sport. The amending legislation covers professional sportspersons on the field, in training sessions, and in travel to and from those activities. It does not extend to other activities such as promotional activities or other employment undertaken by the player for the sporting organisation. The change provides an even playing field for our sporting organisations with the other States which have similar exemptions. New South Wales, for example, exempts professional sportspersons from workers compensation requirements. Mr Speaker, I commend this Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Ms McRae) adjourned.

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