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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3428 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

The government agreed in part to the committee's recommendation No 3. It said:

Proposed legislative changes to the definition of wages/salaries and other remuneration will clarify the amount on which workers compensation premiums should be calculated. The responsibility as to who should hold the workers compensation policy will be clarified in the modernisation of the definition of a "worker".

In the case of labour hire firms the responsibility for workers compensation insurance lies with the labour hire firm. The responsibility for the provision of a safe workplace and the effective management of occupational health and safety in the workplace lies with the host employer.

My word they clarified it. They made sure that the labour hire companies were responsible for their own workers compensation payments, not the host employer. So, instead of going forward, they went backwards.

Mr Speaker, this is an issue which is fundamental to workplace safety-that is, making sure that employers who injure their workers are responsible for the penalty that comes from a bad safety record on the job. There is no argument to avoid having the host employer responsible for premiums and workplace rehabilitation as far as I can make out.

Members should also be aware that the provision which has been included in relation to labour hire arrangements also goes to the issue of-

MR SPEAKER: Order! The member's time has expired. You may take your second period.

MR BERRY: Okay. I also make provision for the motion which was passed in this place to cap the premiums for training companies, at subsection (3). However, the regulations may exempt the individual on principle from this section. So, Mr Speaker, there are provisions to deal with those matters in there. I will leave it there and if I need to come back to it I will in due course.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (8.55): Mr Speaker, the government will oppose the change because what it does fundamentally is alter who is responsible for workers compensation in the labour hire arrangement. Mr Berry is seeking to make the host employer responsible for workers compensation for people that they have no employment relationship with. Although the labour hirer is the employer, the liability for the workers compensation will rest with the workplace when the hired labour is placed. It is like saying that when a person rents a car the responsibility for the compulsory third party insurance is with the person who rents the car, not with the person who owns the car.

I think the change represents a misunderstanding of the difference between the responsibilities under workers compensation, which are absolutely inherent in the existence of an employment relationship, and those responsibilities to provide a safe workplace, which of course should be addressed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The government's position on labour hire firms and workers compensation is

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