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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2998 ..

MR DE DOMENICO (continuing):

In New South Wales under Workcover we would be liable for $60 per head per game. Based on a player roster of 40, the total premium would be in the vicinity of $50,000.

In New South Wales under WorkCover, which we could never afford to introduce into the ACT, it would cost $50,000. Under the current workers compensation situation in the ACT, it would cost $3m. Mr Neil continued:

The Raiders have for a considerable period of time wished to locate its headquarters in Canberra but have been unable to do so because of the provisions of the Workers Compensation Act.

We see Northbourne Oval as the best prospect for our future headquarters. Our long term plans envisage the construction of a Skill Centre ...

I congratulate you on this initiative and hope it succeeds.

As I said, the risk of injury in sports such as football and in other sports as well, but especially in the contact sports, is high. Premiums, as Mr Neil quite aptly described, can be as high as 60 per cent. Organisations cannot pay these premiums and remain competitive at the same time. The Government has given particular attention to the fostering of the business environment in the ACT as well, and ACT participation in sport stimulates our local economy and helps keep people in jobs.

However, the Government has responded to a plea for help from Rugby Union (ACT), supported by other sporting organisations, that the requirement to have workers compensation coverage for players is threatening the viability of the ACT's participation in national professional sports. The proposed amendments bring the ACT into line with other jurisdictions and ensure the viability of ACT professional sports. New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia exempt sportspersons from workers compensation. Only New South Wales has legislated alternative coverage arrangements. It has a New South Wales sports injury insurance scheme, whereby all players, including schoolchildren, contribute to a fund which covers serious injury. Other States do not have any compensation arrangements in their legislation. As I said before, the ACT is too small to have its own sports injury scheme.

The Government is exploring the possibility of extending the New South Wales sports injury insurance scheme into the ACT. I have initiated negotiations with the relevant New South Wales authorities and our officers, but it is too early to tell whether those negotiations will bear fruit. I have been advised that there may be legal problems associated with extending the New South Wales scheme into the Territory. I congratulate the New South Wales Government, because they have gone out of their way to assure us that, if it takes only an amendment to the New South Wales legislation, as long as they cannot see any detrimental effect to the New South Wales scheme, they would be prepared to do that to try to assist the ACT. I thank Premier Carr and his colleagues for the cooperation that he has given us in this respect.

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