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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3332 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

(a) new section 8OA (Back, neck and pelvis impairments-Legislative Assembly endorsement for inclusion in sch 1), as inserted by section 7A;

(b) schedule 2 (Minor amendments).

Mr Speaker, 80A talks about permanent impairment of the back, neck and pelvis. These new provisions have been generously included in the act by the government. But nowhere has the government told us what it will cost to put these new provisions in the legislation. So, Mr Speaker, what I have set out to do is put in place a mandatory independent actuarial assessment of the situation and a report back process to the Assembly. It would be irresponsible not to do that. It is extremely important, therefore, that my amendment to clause 2 be supported so that the independent actuarial assessment can occur.

Last evening the government officers said they were not in a position to consider this issue. I have no idea what the government's position is in relation to it. Mr Speaker, I think new section 80A speaks for itself. However, the adoption of my amendment to clause 2 is extremely important in the context of the implementation of an independent actuarial report.

Members should never forget what happened in New South Wales where their workers compensation scheme has run away from them. It is not something that can be treated lightly. It has to be considered very closely because of the gravity of the effects that benefits contained therein will have on employers and on workers. The benefits also have an effect on insurance companies. But insurance companies, after all, effectively run a book on workers compensation risk and, whilst they are an important consideration because they provide the coverage in the private sector backed scheme in the ACT, they are less of a consideration than workers and employers.

On top of that, the scheme has got to be affordable. Unless we have an appropriate actuarial assessment we will never know the cost until it is too late. That is what new section 80A provides for. It deals with back, neck and pelvis impairments; it requires a minister to commission a report from an actuary who has expertise in workers compensation insurance; it requires a copy of the report to be presented to the Legislative Assembly on or before the first sitting day after 1 February 2002; and, of course, relevant disallowance procedures are provided for within the legislation. Mr Speaker, I commend the new commencement provisions to the house.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.59): Mr Speaker, the government will oppose not only this amendment but all of Mr Berry's amendments. Mr Berry began by speaking about good faith. Despite urgent requests for his amendments during the last sitting period when we may well have been able to deal with them, they were not forthcoming until after the first sitting week of this session.

Mr Berry talked about amendments being dropped on people yesterday. How often has the government come into this place and had huge rafts of amendments dropped on it? So it is somewhat precious to be saying that he has not seen these amendments or has not been taken through these amendments when, in fact, officers from the department were available yesterday to do exactly that. Yet, when we were giving him amendments

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