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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 415 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

It is hardly likely that, because of this motion, they will jeopardise the hundreds of millions of dollars of premiums they earn each year from other types of insurance.

The accident rate for CITEA's apprentices was high in its early years but, with better work practices and improved rehabilitation procedures, in recent years that record has been very good, and I believe that a 25 per cent premium is excessive. During the last calendar year, CITEA paid $415,000 in premiums, and about $20,000 was paid out in compensation. I think in no year has the amount paid out exceeded more than $45,000.

My investigations show that a more equitable premium rate would be about 15 per cent. This rate would provide adequate funds for compensation, provide stability in charge-out rates to host employers, and allow CITEA to engage about 20 new apprentices this year. Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I have been referring to CITEA but I believe that what I have been saying would also apply to a number of other group training schemes.

I am a big supporter of apprenticeships and that has forced me to move this motion. I believe they are the best way for our young people to learn a trade. I would like to see the number of apprentices trained each year greatly increased.

It is of great concern to me that CITEA, MBA and the other group training schemes are being forced to consider laying apprentices off due to the ever-rising cost of workers compensation. Workers compensation is an obvious cost of employment, but it should not hinder employment, as is the case for group training schemes. I believe that my motion provides an immediate solution and I commend it to members and the Assembly.

MR KAINE (4.29): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I must say that this motion causes me somewhat of a dilemma. I knew nothing of it until a few minutes ago when Mr Osborne came in and sought leave to move it. He reeled off some statistics, which he may have information about but I certainly do not. I think it is unprecedented for such a motion to be put before this house and for us to be asked to vote upon it immediately. There may be a crisis in the industry-I do not know; I have not had a chance to find out.

I believe that it would highly improper of me to vote for this motion. First of all, it is a matter of principle. I do not know whether it is a good thing for the minister or the government to be intruding into the insurance business and setting maximums or caps, or anything else. Secondly, I am concerned about the quantum. Mr Osborne expects me to take at face value that 15 per cent is a fair figure for a premium, but on what basis has he determined this percentage?

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, if I were asked to vote on the motion now I would have to say I would vote against it because, in principle, I do not think we should be asked to deal with such a matter at such short notice and on such scant information as Mr Osborne has put before us. I think he needs to be on notice that if he asks me to vote for it this afternoon, I am going to vote against it.

Debate (on motion by Mr Berry ) adjourned to the next sitting.

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