Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 1006 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

A cap on workers' compensation premiums for poorly performing employers treats the symptom but not the cause. Imposing a cap of this nature has two important effects.

Firstly, any premium cap operates to unfairly penalise other employers. This occurs because the costs have to be met by other employers in the ACT, resulting in significant cross subsidies being introduced into the scheme. Other employers are penalised even though they may be taking all appropriate actions to manage the safety of their workers.

More importantly, a premium cap removes an important incentive for the employer to improve work safety for its employees. As mentioned above, premium setting reflects the level of risk and the cost of claims, and therefore operates as a direct incentive for an employer to manage workplace safety, minimise risk and operate with appropriate health and safety strategies.

Risk prevention and safe work practices should be the focus to ensure long term premium reduction. The capping of the premium will reward the poor work safety of one employer and send the wrong signal about the importance of workplace safety to all employers in the ACT.

I table that letter which was sent to Mr Smyth as he asked me to do so. I present the following paper:

Workers' compensation premium for the construction industry training body-Facsimile copy of letter from General Manager, Statutory Classes, Insurance Council of Australia to Mr B Smyth, Minister for Urban Services, dated 23 March 2001.

Mr Speaker, speaking briefly to Mr Berry's amendment: obviously I can see why he has done that. If the motion gets up that is a very sensible amendment to make in that it does put a sunset period on this. In the circumstances, if the motion is successful, I think most members of the Assembly would accept that amendment.

But I do wonder whether this is the right way to go. I am mindful of the fact that this company had a lower premium than 15 per cent, and my understanding is that it has significantly improved how it operates. One would think, given that it has concluded a 12 months agreement, that it might end up with a lower premium than the 15 per cent. I think the points raised by Mr Kaine in terms of setting a precedent such as this are very valid ones too, and worthy of everyone taking heed of.

MS TUCKER (11.50): The Greens will be supporting this motion, but we also have reservations about the nature of the response. It is a blunt instrument. However, we believe it is necessary at this time because the situation is untenable for the group training schemes, and we value the presence of such schemes in the community.

Basically, the changing shape of employment and industry has made trainees and apprentices particularly vulnerable on a number of fronts, and we need to act promptly to address the problem, both in the short term and more profoundly. I think most of us in the Assembly think this way, contrary to Mr Hird's assertion.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .