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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3446 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

(3) If the Minister considers that stopping payment of the weekly compensation is unreasonable, the Minister may-

(a) tell the insurer so in writing; and

(b) direct the insurer, in writing, not to stop paying the weekly compensation, or to continue to pay the weekly compensation until the Minister otherwise directs or the claim is settled or decided.

(4) The insurer must not, without reasonable excuse, contravene a direction under this section.

Maximum penalty: 10 penalty units.

If the insurer stops payment in these circumstances, how long is it going to take a court to deal with the matter? If a worker can argue successfully that the insurer contravened the provisions of the legislation, the penalty would be 10 penalty units or a thousand bucks. That is the maximum fine for cutting off a worker's benefits for what could be months. Who makes the decision? This is done by the minister. What qualifications does a minister in this place have to make judicial decisions in relation to cutting off benefits? What qualification does a minister have to act as the appeal agent? This is just extraordinary.

If Ms Tucker supports what the government is doing, she should support it all the way. Do not get involved in tokenism by giving workers two weeks. The fact of the matter is that the whole process is unreasonable. Ms Tucker, you are one for process, and I accept that. But the process is bad because it gives the responsibility to somebody who is not qualified to deal with the situation and it encompasses potentially a more cumbersome approach than the one that is available under the provisions which I propose.

Amendment negatived.

MS TUCKER (10.15): I move my amendment No 2 [see schedule 5, purple sheet, at page 3546].

Mr Speaker, I have spoken to this amendment and people understand what it seeks to do.

Amendment agreed to.

Proposed new clause 11A, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 12.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.16): Mr Speaker, I move amendment 19, circulated in my name [see schedule 2 at page 3475].

MR BERRY (10.17): I move amendment No 6 [see schedule 4, gold sheet, at page 3542] to Mr Smyth's amendment 19.

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