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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3917 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

liabilities. On reflection on the figures, the assets are $5.689 billion and the liabilities are $7.364 billion. ACT WorkCover has neither of those.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (9.01), in reply: As always for Mr Berry, it is based on assertion. If I asserted harder than you asserted, what I say must be true. What we need to do is compare the Bills before us to see which one meets the suggestion of the coroner and which will better serve the people of the ACT. This Bill and the model that we have put before you - sorry to contradict Mr Berry - are not necessarily based on the New South Wales model. In fact, much of the legislation was lifted from small authority models within the ACT in designing the WorkCover authority. For example, we used as a model the Cultural Facilities Corporation and the Canberra Tourism and Events Corporation.

So let us dispel the myth that this is not suitable for the ACT. Mr Berry's assertion is that they get a big board. We are little; we should just have a commissioner. Does that mean that all the other boards that have been put in place by this Assembly under governments of both persuasions are irrelevant because of Mr Berry's assertion? I look forward to Mr Berry abolishing every other board in the ACT and putting commissioners in their place.

The preoccupation of Ms Tucker seems to be that it has a business plan. It is involved in business; therefore, it must be dirty. We all go about the business of the Assembly. We all go about our own personal business. "Business" is something you can use to describe that which an organisation does. The business of the WorkCover authority would be investigation, enforcement, education and all the other activities that such a group should undertake. They also have to do that within a framework of management. That is why you put together a business plan. You put together a business plan so that you can achieve your objectives.

If we go to a comparison of the Bills, we talk about the structure of the agency. Mr Berry refers to the coroner's report, page 28 I think. He said, "This proves that my model meets what the coroner said". Under our structure, we would have an independent statutory authority operating under its own legislation building on the reforms pursued over the past two years within WorkCover. What Mr Berry is proposing is a single commissioner tied up in the OH&S Act. It is not a statutory authority; it is an ad hoc arrangement. He quotes the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman has its own Act, as do all statutory officers. They have an independent Act. They are not hidden. They are not inserted inside another Act. It is very important. Mr Berry's arrangement is ad hoc. Ours is quite clear and decisive.

The structure of our agency is six part-time directors plus the general manager. Mr Berry proposes simply a commissioner that has no organisation to back him up. We have a staff to assist the general manager for the day-to-day function of the authority, and they are employed under the PSM Act. Under Mr Berry's Bill, what the commissioner has to do is arrange with the chief executive of the department to use the services of public servants and facilities to perform his or her duties.

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