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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (15 June) . . Page.. 1806 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

some sectors of the community while acknowledging that injured workers should not be consigned to poverty as some of them are under the current arrangements.

I take this opportunity to remind members of the key features of the exposure draft legislation. They were:

Employers, insurers, treatment providers and the injured worker must participate in an injury management plan, with new requirements relating to the early reporting, actioning and decision-making on claims;

Statutory benefits for workers injured for periods greater than 26 weeks increased from being the lowest in the country to a responsible level that does not leave them in poverty;

Insurance companies able to offer employers innovative insurance policies, subject to minimum requirements, rather than the mandatory inflexible arrangements currently prevailing;

Insurers required to take a more proactive role in the treatment, rehabilitation, and return to work of injured workers;

Insurers to demonstrate that they have effective cost containment measures in place in relation to medical, rehabilitation, and legal services to maintain their approval to operate in the ACT;

New requirements for the approval of the various service providers involved in injury management rehabilitation as well as brokers and agents; and

Continued unfettered access to common law but with streamlined processes leading to early directions being given by the court and the option for court-directed mediation.

Mr Speaker, when tabling the exposure draft legislation I commented that every jurisdiction in Australia and around the world constantly grapples with the competing objectives of workers compensation arrangements. On the one hand the arrangements must ensure that injured workers are properly treated, supported and remunerated, while on the other hand the costs of the schemes need to be kept reasonable and affordable for business.

The comprehensive consultation process that the government has undertaken on the exposure draft legislation revealed that some further work was needed in the area of scheme cost. Insurers and business groups demonstrated that the many benefits that the new approach would bring could be quickly outweighed in several key areas, resulting in overall cost increases. At a time of rising costs, it was clear that changes were required.

Without altering the fundamental changes that the draft legislation flagged as the government's intended reforms, we have modified the draft legislation in several key areas to address the matter of cost. I will now deal with the key changes.

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