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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3333 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

yesterday, he dropped amendments on us. So I think this holier than though attitude that we are doing something wrong is a little precious.

We have made these changes-they are very similar to some of the amendments that Mr Berry has proposed-after getting out and talking and listening to people. Mr Osborne in his scrutiny of bills committee report suggested that the regulations be moved into the act itself. We looked at that and discussed it with Mr Kaine. His advice was that he thought less of the regulations and more of the act. This was taken on board while I was away last week in China and these amendments were drafted. I apologise that they were not circulated until yesterday, but they were certainly circulated earlier than a lot of the amendments that the government sees presented in this place.

Our amendments will carry out the wish of several members to make the act stronger. What we have proposed will work because it is what is wanted by the folk we have consulted with. We get the sort of talk we have just heard from Mr Berry all the time. The government has been driving this agenda for some time and a number of reports led us to the conclusions that we have reached.

It is proposed that a limit be placed on the ability of muscular skeletal-type injuries to negatively impact on the scheme. Mr Berry wants a study done. However, the impact on the scheme is not known. You can only do that retrospectively. We can look at the effect once the process has started and we can then make an objective assessment of what these impacts will be. That is the appropriate way to do it. So it is not a matter of saying, "Don't do it now." We want to carry out a review.

It would appear that in the opinion of the Labor Party the government is in trouble for having a generous workers compensation scheme. It is extraordinary, Mr Speaker, that we are getting into trouble for being too generous.

We take this matter seriously and we do intend to carry out a review. If Mr Berry's amendments get up, I will move amendments to his amendments to make sure that we can do this in the appropriate manner and at the appropriate time.

MR KAINE (11.02): Mr Speaker, I will be quite brief. I think the debate between Mr Berry and the minister on clause 2 demonstrates the dilemma that we are in with this bill. I think we all agree that there needs to be a workers compensation bill in place. There seems to be general agreement that, by and large, it is a good bill. But a massive number of amendments have been put forward by Mr Berry on the one hand and an equally massive number of amendments have been put forward by the government on the other. My dilemma is that I cannot reconcile Mr Berry's amendment to clause 2-and much of that amendment depends on what follows in his other amendments-with what the government is proposing in its amendments.

I am in no position to judge whether the government's amendments are better than Mr Berry's or vice versa. So this raises the real question in my mind as to whether we ought to be debating this bill in detail at all until we have had time to make a proper comparison of the two lots of amendments that have been put forward. In all fairness I have to say that I have had Mr Berry's amendments since 15 August. I received the government's amendments this morning, although apparently they arrived late last night. My staff was told: "Well, Mr Kaine didn't get them last night because he wasn't here."

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