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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (22 May) . . Page.. 1608 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

85 out of 422 cases have now been resolved through better management strategies by the ACT Public Service and Comcare. I am also advised that a further 20 claims are due to be closed in the very near future. We have achieved this in just over 12 months. Comcare and the ACT Government have been working closely together for some months now to put in place a new workplace injury prevention and management strategy. What this means is that, of the remaining long-term claims that we inherited, all but eight have been systematically reviewed and appropriate management plans have been developed and are being implemented.

Mr Speaker, the mob opposite would be well aware that under their administration the annual premium for the entire ACT Public Service almost doubled from $16m in 1991-92 to almost $30m in the last financial year. Even allowing for the Commonwealth's decision to create a separate ACT premium pool in 1994-95, the premium increase over the four years was almost 80 per cent. The bad news is that just because of this mismanagement our premium is still increasing. Although our record has improved, we may not see a decrease until possibly 1997-98 at the earliest.

What I find the most amazing about all of this is that Mr Berry, supposedly the worker's friend, is happy to sit there and smile and joke and think that this whole thing is simply unimportant. Obviously, when he was Industrial Relations Minister, he found it pretty unimportant. What happened? People ended up on workers compensation for extremely long periods of time. Their quality of life was impacted upon - in fact, destroyed in many circumstances - but I am very pleased to say that we have addressed that issue. Our new approach to improving safety in the workplace and our better approach to cases when people unfortunately end up with an injury in the workplace have resulted in very close to 25 per cent of all long-term cases being resolved. As for Mr Berry's record, Mr Speaker, I do not think that Mr Berry should be sitting there smiling. I think he should be very ashamed.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, I wonder whether Mrs Carnell would table the strategy. There is no strategy. You cannot table it.

MR KAINE: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I may have missed some of the numbers, but did I understand you to say, Chief Minister, that there were 422 cases outstanding a year or so ago, that about 100 of those cases have already been resolved and that all but eight have been comprehensively reviewed in the last 15 months?

MRS CARNELL: That is right, Mr Speaker. We still have to review eight cases out of the 422. They will be done very shortly. Mr Berry said that there was no strategy. We have gone from 422 long-term cases - people who have been on workers compensation for longer than 45 weeks and who had no plans in place, no systems, no policies to actually address the problems that they have - - -

Mr Berry: Table the strategy.

MR SPEAKER: Order! If you keep interjecting, you will not see any strategy whatsoever.

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