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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4240 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

I do not find the activity that has occurred in the last 12 months to be all that impressive. I am reasonably reliably informed that $500 has been recovered from two people in a year. I question the commitment to chase that kind of money. If there is a problem, perhaps we ought to be addressing our thinking towards that.

One thing that rammed home the motivation behind this legislation was this statement on page 3 of the Government's response:

The Government does not support recommendations [1], 4, 6, 12, [13], 17, [18], 19 and 21 -

which is most of them -

on the following bases:

. they are not budget neutral and they would significantly add to the cost of the scheme ...

. they reduce equity efficiency or accountability ...

Budget neutrality has as its premise an expenditure and a revenue. That is what budget neutrality is all about. One cancels out the other. A compensation scheme is an outgoing. It does not have an income. What we say here is that we have spent $6m in a normal year, might now have to spend $10m, but have collected $500. It never was going to be budget neutral. It never could be budget neutral and it never will be, regardless of the changes you might make to the scheme. (Further extension of time granted)

I want to conclude on my next point. I will forget about the other points. The Government's response talks about reducing equity efficiency and accountability. The recommendations of the committee had nothing to do with the accountability of the scheme. The accountability of the scheme is about how you set it up and how you report on it. Who gets access to what and for what reasons have nothing to do with accountability. Accountability is just an audit measure. The argument that we need to change the scheme because it is not accountable enough is an irrelevant argument.

I would urge the Assembly to reject the retrospective provisions, to support the Government's changes to embrace the workers compensation provisions and to support the amendments that Mr Stanhope is going to move in due course. I thank members for their indulgence in granting me extensions of time.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (12.53 am): I have listened with interest to this debate. I had a fair bit to do with victims as a prosecutor. Indeed, I was prosecuting when the scheme started and the maximum was $20,000. I was in the First Assembly when it was raised to $50,000. It is a scheme that worked well in the early stages, but considerable problems arose thereafter. The examples given by Mr Hargreaves highlighted some of the inequities and some of the problems with the scheme. It is a matter of concern to the Government that the costs have blown out astronomically.

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