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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3776 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

When the Department of Urban Services examined the legislation in detail to prepare the instrument to give effect to the motion, officers concluded that there may be some doubt as to how to proceed. Advice was then sought from the Government Solicitor's Office on how to proceed with the implementation.

The GSO concurred that there were problems with implementation. Use of section 20 of the act, which provides the minister with the power to determine a maximum premium rate, had particular difficulties associated with it. In 1991 the then Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Berry, introduced, and the Assembly passed, a new section 20 of the Workers Compensation Act 1951 which says, "An insurer shall not charge or accept in respect of a prescribed insurance policy a premium greater than that calculated in accordance with the prescribed maximum rate of premium." However, the act does not provide any mechanism for the calculation of the premium or the prescribed maximum rate.

The explanatory memorandum that accompanied the bill notes, "An insurer may not charge a premium that is greater than that prescribed in the regulations as the maximum rate of premium." However, Mr Speaker, no minister has made regulations pursuant to section 20. In the absence of regulations that describe how the maximum rate of premium is prescribed, section 20 is rendered meaningless and cannot be immediately used to give effect to the motion.

An alternative approach that the Government Solicitor offered to give effect to the motion was to declare a new prescribed insurance policy under the act by introducing a new schedule under subsection 16 (1) (b). The new schedule would be an additional prescribed insurance policy which would set a maximum premium for organisations employing a specific group of territory employees as required by subsection 16 (2) (c).

In either case, to pursue either option would require further legislative action to address issues not currently dealt with. These issues would include the creation of a legal definition of a group training company consistent with the intent of the Assembly in passing the motion, a mechanism to provide and register these group training companies, amendments to section 17D, dealing with insurer obligations, and amendments to section 6B, which determines categories of workers. The Department of Urban Services, since receiving this advice, has been working actively to resolve the issues that are impeding implementation of the motion.

Mr Speaker, good progress has now been made on how to define group training companies, to register them, and to specify the category of workers to be covered for the purposes of the capped premium. Identification of the precise amendment of section 17D of the act needed to ensure that approved insurers are required to offer companies that are defined as group training companies a prescribed policy approved specifically for group training companies or as defined in the regulations is also nearing completion.

Section 6B enables the minister to determine the categories of workers for the purposes of sections 18 (1) (b) (i) and 23F (b) (i) and schedules relevant to section 16 of the act. Section 6B will need to be amended to ensure that the data collection for group training companies is consistent with the new accident information management system database being developed by WorkCover. The minister would then have to declare this determination in the Gazette. The department has nearly concluded its work in these

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