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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3445 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

The delay in ensuring compliance with an injury management plan caused by the need to proceed then through the compensation court would render the provision absolutely meaningless. This is also in conflict with the general thrust of the legislation, as it removes from the injured worker the incentive for complying with injury management programs and early return to work. So this really goes right to the heart of what it is we are trying to do here.

Further, where an injured worker believes that the insurer is acting unreasonably, the amendment removes the automatic right of appeal by the injured worker to the minister against the notice to cease benefits and continue payments. Ministers do not make those decisions. It would be a delegated power and in this case it would be delegated to the regulator, the independent commissioner, and I am sure she would exercise this power wisely.

MR BERRY (10.11): I find this concept where people think all workers are cheats when they are injured-

Mr Smyth: Nobody said that.

MR BERRY: That is the impression you are trying to create. It is being argued that if you give them little to sort out their affairs then they will comply more. This is just extraordinary. Subsection (2) of the amendment to be moved on behalf of the Greens by Ms Tucker states:

A worker's entitlements to workers compensation does not stop under this section until 2 weeks after the day ...

Well, that is generous, isn't it! After two weeks, you get nothing.

Workers who are on the statutory benefit, whatever it is, or have been ill for some time, are not going to have a lot of money to throw around. What will happen if they are ill and the time within which their compensation is stopped is reduced under the government's or Ms Tucker's amendments? Under section 10ZI the insurer gives the worker and the minister notice in writing that a worker's weekly compensation will stop.

Proposed section 10ZIA states:

(1) This section applies if an insurer gives the worker and Minister notice under section 10ZI and stops the worker's weekly compensation.

(2) If the Minister considers that stopping the weekly compensation may have been unreasonable, the Minister may do either or both of the following:

(a) ask the insurer, in writing, for further information about the stoppage-

how long do you reckon that will take, Ms Tucker?-

(b) direct the insurer, in writing, not to stop paying the weekly compensation, or to continue to pay the weekly compensation, for a stated time that is not longer than 1 month.

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