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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4253 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

The Government's original position was not to include police officers there. We argued that we should cover their matters primarily with workers compensation type payments. I think I have accepted the argument that Mr Rugendyke has put to me that encounters with crime are a very common part of the daily work of a police officer. That is almost axiomatic. Injury from those encounters can be quite common. It is reasonable that people with such relatively high levels of encounter with injury from crime ought to be considered to be primary victims in this sense or primary candidates for application. In the circumstances, Mr Speaker, I think it is a reasonable proposition, and therefore the Government supports this amendment.

MR KAINE (1.37 am): Mr Speaker, having heard that explanation, I have to say that I am opposed to what is being proposed here. I go back to the committee's report. The Government already has pretty much rejected most of the recommendations that came out of the committee, for what reason I do not know, because it was all based on evidence presented to the committee. In respect of this question of police officers, our recommendations and our comment was quite specific - that police officers should have first recourse to their own internal workers compensation schemes. We went further and we said that they could remain in the scheme until the Government made other arrangements with the Commonwealth.

To do what is being proposed here is to completely set aside the recommendations of the committee, yet again. It not only builds the police back into this law, which was not the intention of the committee, but it also, if you take the next amendment that Mr Rugendyke is going to propose, makes them a special class of beneficiary at a sum greater than other beneficiaries will receive. This is a total abrogation of what the committee recommended. It is a total reversal of the committee's recommendations, and the Government gives no explanation for this except to say that it is reasonable. Well, I do not think it is at all reasonable, Mr Speaker.

It is a pity that Mr Osborne is not here because he was the chair of the committee that made these recommendations. This one in particular not only has been set aside but also has been so distorted as to make police officers a special class of recipient who will get $20,000 more under the special awards clause than anybody else. Nobody has explained to me why that is necessary, or why it is logical, or why it is reasonable, and, until somebody does, I am not going to support it.

MR RUGENDYKE (1.39 am): Mr Speaker, my amendment No. 2 also includes firefighters and ambulance officers in that section. These are people who often are injured on duty. Also included in that amendment are victims of sexual assault. They are still able to access criminal injuries compensation for injuries sustained as a result of violent crime under the sexual assault provisions.

MS TUCKER (1.40 am): I am glad that Mr Rugendyke has explained his amendment because I am also interested in making a comment on this. I am equally concerned, as is Mr Kaine, about what the process is here. We are in fact creating another class of persons. The argument seems to be that police, firemen and ambulance people have a higher exposure to violence. Well, that is obviously part of the work. Bank tellers, increasingly, also have an increasing likelihood of exposure to violence.

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