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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 1013 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

recollection of what happened. So you have to balance the level of sympathy you have for apprentices against the level of sympathy you have for insurance companies.

I note several things in the letter tabled by Mr Stanhope: one is the number of apprentices that this would affect. Another is the increases in insurance premiums from 1995 to the present-9 per cent, 12 per cent, 20 per cent, and now it is 25 per cent. When you look at the table on the back, it seems that the insurance companies are doing pretty well out of this. There have been very few occasions when the insurance companies seem to have gone a little bit backwards. It looks like $124 in 1999. Yes, it looks like they are doing pretty well. I note that this has come to our notice this morning, so the analysis might not be correct, but look at the retained premiums. That must mean profit, surely? Gee whiz! They are not doing too bad. I do not think this section of the insurance policies is what sent HIH broke. It looks to me like this aspect of insurance is doing pretty well.

At the end of the day, Mr Speaker, it's about jobs. It is about our apprentices being able to continue their employment, and to be trained properly and appropriately. I support the motion, and I support the amendment for a sunset clause because this will come back. I also note the wise words of Mr Kaine, but, on balance, I support Mr Osborne's motion.

MR OSBORNE (12.13): I thank members for their support. This obviously has been a difficult issue for me and for other members. I do not think I have once suggested that this is the solution to the workers compensation premium issue, but I think we had to do something, and we had to do something quickly because we have already seen group training schemes across the country go under because of workers compensation. That is why I came up with this suggestion. There is a section of the act which allows the minister to set premiums. We obviously moved this motion because of that. I thank Mr Berry and Ms Tucker in particular for the work that we have done with them via our officers trying to gather the support for this legislation.

I have to say, Mr Speaker, that the economic rationalist approach of the government and Mr Kaine, whereby you just let business do whatever they like, is not something that I particularly support. I think that we as a parliament, and governments in particular, have a responsibility to act sometimes, and that is what we are doing. This obviously is something that we have given a lot of thought, but at the end of the day there are hundreds of apprentices' jobs on the line, and I was not prepared to sit back and do nothing and see them out on the street.

Mr Speaker, on the issue of workers compensation premiums in particular, I have to say that I am now giving serious thought to placing caps on different industries across the board, but that obviously is something that will take some time. I do intend to speak to Mr Baxter, the Pricing Commissioner, to see whether or not he could be involved in the process over the next couple of years, as per the suggestion of Mr Kaine.

Mr Kaine: A very wise suggestion. Do it before, rather than after.


: That was a very wise suggestion from the elder statesman over there, and it is one that I think we should pursue. I do not know whether or not Mr Baxter would be able to take this on board. I have had discussions with Mr Baxter from time to time about what role he would play. As no particular company has a monopoly, I do not

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