Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (22 May) . . Page.. 1607 ..
MR WHITECROSS: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Can the Chief Minister tell the Assembly when we will receive the monthly financial statements, to get further information on these matters?
MRS CARNELL: I will certainly take that question on notice. As I think I made clear to the Assembly, we have a deal of difficulty in getting monthly financial statements together.
Mr Berry: You are hiding behind this.
MRS CARNELL: No. As those opposite would be aware, one of the casualties of the industrial dispute was our computer system, Fiscal. Some $135m worth of transactions carried out during the term of the dispute were all done manually. All of those transactions then had to be entered into our Fiscal system. That process is, I think, just about complete now. In fact, I am sure that it is complete now. As that is in place, we will be able to produce our monthly financial statements, which of course we always like to produce on time but cannot if we do not have computers.
MR KAINE: I address a question to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, over the last year or so, on a number of occasions, a question has been raised about the management of workers compensation cases in the ACT government service and the difficulties that have been experienced. It has not been raised for a while. Can you tell the Assembly what the Government is currently doing to address the high number of long-term workers compensation claims and the spiralling costs of premiums in connection with workers compensation for ACT government service employees?
MRS CARNELL: I am sure that Mr Kaine was very interested, as I was, that Mr Berry laughed. He obviously thought workers compensation was a joke. Certainly, he treated it like that when he was the Minister in charge. I thank Mr Kaine for the question. This is a problem that governments right across Australia have to grapple with. Unfortunately, Mr Berry did not grapple with it, and that was the problem. Nowhere has this issue become more important than here in the ACT. Mr Speaker, since we came to office, the ACT Government has been working closely with the Public Service to change our focus away from bureaucratic processes and back to where it should be, and that is on the customer. Put simply, we inherited an absolute mess in the management of workers compensation issues. When this Government came to office, there were 422 long-term cases in the ACT Public Service that had not been resolved. Those are people who have been on workers compensation for longer than 45 weeks. There were no plans, no systems and no policies in place to resolve these cases and improve the quality of life for the hundreds of people involved with injury claims.
What has this Government done about this appalling situation? Today I can advise Mr Kaine and this Assembly that this Government has achieved a great deal. In fact, we have successfully closed or resolved one out of every five of the workers compensation claims that we inherited from the previous Follett Government; that is,