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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 993 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

These training companies perform an extremely important function out there in the community. In the past, training companies for these purposes did not exist, but they are a growing feature of the industry landscape now, and it is up to us as legislators to make sure that they do not collapse because of the unintended consequences of an insurance system that is market based. I do not think any of us would support an insurance system that would bring about the collapse of companies such as these, particularly in the knowledge that they are bearing the costs, in terms of insurance premiums, for injuries that they have no real control over. This troubles me somewhat.

I have the view that, if somebody is responsible for failing to keep a safe workplace, or for an injury in the workplace, then they ought to bear the financial responsibility. I think that is a fair view. This particular proposal does not deal with that. (Extension of time granted.) This is one way of dealing with it, but I would ask the government to address themselves to other issues and, if there are alternative approaches that they think will work, I am happy to discuss these with them, with a view to coming up with a long-term solution. As I said, I foreshadow an amendment to limit any capping of these rates for two years.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (10.59): Mr Speaker, let me just say at the outset that I would support the principle of a sunset clause, which Mr Berry has made reference to in this debate. I think it is very important that we consider the effects of such legislation after it has been in place for a while.

The government will not support the motion that is before the Assembly today. The government, I put on the record, is very conscious of the problem, to which Mr Osborne has drawn attention, and to which Mr Berry has referred this afternoon, of the escalating cost of obtaining workers compensation insurance for the organisations referred to in this motion. We would dearly like to be able to provide a framework that ensures that such businesses-which is what they are, essentially-do not have to experience the threat of going out of business.

The group training companies are very important organisations, not just in terms of dealing with the requirement for well-trained and skilled people to serve in industry, but also, of course, in terms of fulfilling the career expectations and requirements for those young people-as that is what they are, almost invariably-who go through those group training companies.

I take the point Mr Berry has raised about the need for alternatives to be put on the table if we are not to adopt the course of action proposed in this motion. I have to say I do not have any alternatives, at least none that we could profitably discuss at this stage but, notwithstanding that, I think we have to be very cautious indeed about taking up this option merely because there appear to be no other options.

The impact of this motion, if passed, would be immediate and negative, particularly with regard to people who take part in the process of providing insurance in the area of workers compensation. We need to take the effect of that signal into account in deciding what to do about this motion.

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