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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 996 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

I think it would be appropriate for members to consider that, and in fact I table that letter and the attachments to it. I present the following paper:

Workers' compensation premium rate control-Facsimile copy of letter, including attachment, from General Manager - Underwriting Operations, Workers Compensation Division, Allianz Australia Insurance Limited to Workers Compensation Policy, Industry Policy and Regulation, Department of Urban Services, dated 16 March 2001.

I simply indicate that I believe we need to be very cautious about this. We need to be cautious about the effect on insurers. It might not be a significant effect on these few insurers who are affected here, but I just do not know. I do not know what they would do if they feel that the Legislative Assembly of the ACT is prepared to make this a habit.

I do not know what signal it will send to employers if they think that they might be able to escape the effect of higher premiums and arguably, therefore, the effect of poor management of the matters that cause high premiums, by being able to come to the Assembly and have a cap placed on the premiums that they pay. I do not know what kind of effect it will have on workers, who, you could argue in an extreme case, might be exposed to greater risk in the workplace because the employer was no longer required to meet the consequences of poor practices in that field.

As I said, I support the idea of a sunset clause. I see Mr Berry is proposing a period of two years. That is better than nothing, but I think it is important that the government place on record its significant concern about this motion. It will clearly pass as I understand the numbers on the floor today, and the government will consider what we are to do in light of that.

Again, we have a slightly ambiguous wording of the motion: "that the government set a maximum rate of 15 per cent". I am not sure whether that is meant to be mandatory for or advisory to the government. I think we would treat it as mandatory, but that is a matter that the government will consider on the passage of the motion.

I sincerely hope that we do not have to come back at some point in the future and say, "We told you so," if something dire has happened, but it is worth putting the matter on the record, so that we can reconsider it when we have some experience of what actually happens when this measure is taken.

MR KAINE: I seek leave to speak again, Mr Speaker.

Leave granted.

MR KAINE: I am speaking to Mr Berry's amendment, Mr Speaker. I have indicated before that I do not support this proposal, and Mr Berry's amendment does not make it, in my view, any more plausible. I think that the members of this place-as the Chief Minister suggested-need to take this sort of proposal with great caution, because what we are doing, if we pass this motion, is setting a precedent where this place, at somebody's request, can fix the price of anything.

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