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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 6 Hansard (25 May) . . Page.. 1761 ..

Thursday, 25 May 2000


MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.



MR BERRY (10.31): Pursuant to order, I present the following report:

Workers' Compensation System-Select Committee-Report-Workers' compensation system in the ACT, including a dissenting report, dated 22 May 2000, together with a copy of the minutes of proceedings.

I move:

That the report be noted.

Workers compensation in the ACT has been an issue of contest between various groups within the community for many years. On the one hand, there are people on the employers' side of the business who argue that benefits need to be reduced in order that premiums can be reduced and, on the other, there are employee organisations and organisations concerned with social justice who argue that benefits need to be retained or improved for workers injured in the system.

There is also argument about whether employers are making fair contributions to the scheme. Some in the community argue that workers exploit the scheme and others argue that employers exploit the scheme. A good description of the workers compensation debate in the ACT is that it is one in which arguments abound. One of the great difficulties with the issue is in getting access to data to prove the case one way or the other. The fact that there are arguments coming from many directions in relation to this matter is a cause for concern about the outcomes which flow not only to workers in the ACT but to businesses as well.

This committee was charged with the job of looking at aspects of the workers compensation system in the ACT and at a bill which was introduced into the Assembly last year. The committee received 12 submissions, ranging from the ACT Bar Association, the ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Australian Business, through the ACT government, to the CFMEU and the Insurance Council of Australia. The committee also took evidence from representatives of eight organisations in a public hearing.

The committee was predominantly concerned with problems associated with what was described as illegal employer conduct, chiefly with underreporting practices in which employers underdeclare the amount of wages and salaries paid in order to get an

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