Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2997 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
been sufficient time to consult widely and in detail. I am almost inclined to adjourn the matter because of the inadequacy of the time available to consult with the community. The efforts of our consultation have not led us to a point where we have been able to discuss it in detail with other people.
I raised earlier the matter of travelling to and from sporting activities, and this has been raised by the Independent Schools Staff Association. They seem to think that it is unclear as to why this contingency is excluded, and they are worried about the removal of the travel component in other types of employment, which might arise from this. The legislation excludes all types of professional sporting activities, not just body-contact sports, and I think that that is a fair judgment. There is a range of sporting activities that would be virtually injury free, but there are some that could hardly be described as injury free. My experience at rugby league was a short one, but I am sure I have a few injuries that I brought with me, especially to the old knees.
The Opposition is reserved about the position. We are prepared to not oppose this amendment to the legislation, but we would like to emphasise our nervousness about the issue, particularly because of the short time allowed for consultation between the introduction of the legislation and the debate on it.
MR DE DOMENICO (Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Business, Employment and Tourism) (3.58), in reply: I thank Mr Berry for his contribution to the debate and his support, albeit reluctant, for the Bill. He is concerned about it. I can assure Mr Berry that there is nothing untoward about the Government doing this. Very basically, the Bill removes the requirements for employers, or clubs in this instance, to take out workers compensation insurance to cover the professional sporting activities of sportspersons whom they employ. It removes the entitlement of those sportspersons to workers compensation for injuries resulting from the engagement in professional sporting activities only. Anything else that the person might do is not excluded. It is just that sporting part.
Currently, professional sportspeople such as the Raiders, the Cannons, the Cosmos, the Kookaburras and others are classed as employees of the sporting organisations which have engaged them. This means that under certain conditions - for instance, if the player is paid more than $15,000 - the sporting body is required to take out workers compensation insurance for each player to cover them on the playing field. The best way to exemplify the support which has been expressed for the Bill is to read into Hansard a letter from Mr Kevin Neil, the chief executive of the Canberra Raiders. The letter says:
I understand that you are considering a proposal to remove professional sports persons as persons covered by the Workers Compensation Act of the Territory.
I wish to inform you that the Raiders strongly support the proposal.
Our total player payments could exceed $5m in the near future. At a quoted rate of 60 per cent of total salary the Club would be liable to pay some $3m in workers compensation premiums. We clearly could not afford this.