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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3424 ..

MS TUCKER (8.35): On the 80:20 rule, this bill has been drafted in many ways as an echo of the Commonwealth legislation in which the test of regular and systematic employment has been used. The argument that the 80:20 rule should also apply is immediately appealing. It seems reasonable.

In fact, though, as drafted, it is our belief that Mr Berry's amendment will create some double-ups, so that people who are covered by their own workers compensation would also need to be covered by people who engage them. There will be complications where contractors are engaged by a number of organisations more or less at the same time, raising questions about what 80 per cent of what time period and so on.

There is an issue in regard to catching as many people as possible in the workers compensation regime. I believe that we need to maintain rigorous oversight of its operations in order to amend the act when and if we find people are falling through the net.

The 80:20 rule, as the tax system has demonstrated, is not easy to apply or as resolved as we would like. In the interests of putting the scheme in place with maximum goodwill from all parties, I will not be supporting Mr Berry's amendment.

MR BERRY (8.36): People have been caught up in this idea that people will have to pay twice. Who would ever pay twice if they do not have to? That is the point that I make. To put that misleading proposition to this place is extraordinarily disingenuous. This will prevent scheming operators from creating individual contractors out of their employees to try to avoid their responsibilities. I heard of a case that is in the offing in the ACT where a sizeable employer is about to make all of their employees individual contractors to do low-paid work, but they will have to buy their own insurance and so on. It will be interesting to see whether this legislation covers those workers, and I will be watching that situation with great care.

Ms Tucker draws some comparisons between this and the taxation system. I hoped when I spoke earlier that she might have understood that this is not a tax. This is a payment by the employer to insure the worker against risk. It is not a tax. The scheme which failed the couriers was one which lessened the courier's income because they went into a higher tax bracket because of the 80:20 rule. In fact, the 80:20 rule would be beneficial to couriers because they would not have to pay their own insurance. That is the point that I make. I will bet that if the 80:20 rule was applied to them in relation to their workers compensation they would not have been rallying in Canberra about it as they were about their tax, because they would have been better off. That is the point that has to be understood about the 80:20 rule in relation to the couriers. By not supporting this you encourage more individual contracting and scheming operators to avoid their responsibility and fail to contribute to the premium pool.

One of the reasons why premiums for employers are going up is that the pool is too small. Mr Smyth stood up here and said that in some way I was trying to mislead people by saying that I had failed to put a chronology on it. I object to this and I want to make this point. No, I got up here and I told you exactly when the committee reported, and I also said that the government would say that they have picked up all the case precedent. So do not misrepresent what I am saying here. What I am saying is that picking up all the case precedent is not good enough. That is the point that I make.

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