Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3004 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
The Workers Compensation Supplementation Fund Amendment Bill makes minor technical amendments to the Workers Compensation Supplementation Fund Act 1980.
This Act establishes a 'safety net' fund to ensure that if an approved workers' compensation insurer goes out of business, then people who are injured in workplaces covered by policies with that insurer still receive appropriate compensation for their injuries.
The Act allows the collection of a surcharge on workers' compensation premiums to provide money to the fund. At present, no surcharge is collected on workers' compensation premiums, and this has been the case since 1986, when the then Minister decided that there were sufficient cash reserves in the fund to meet any potential liabilities.
Following the collapse of the HIH Group last year, the Territory is now examining whether there are sufficient reserves in the Supplementation Fund to ensure that all workers' compensation claims can be met, and what level of employer contributions to the fund may be necessary to meet HIH costs. This decision will be informed by actuarial assessments of the likely future costs of claims that would have been covered by HIH policies, and the actual costs of HIH claims that have been received or settled so far.
In the event that a surcharge is levied, changes need to be made to the Act to ensure that payment options for the surcharge are consistent with payment options for workers' compensation premiums.
When the Act was first introduced, workers' compensation premiums (and insurance premiums in general) were normally paid on an annual basis. In recent years, most insurers have introduced increased flexibility in payment options, so that premiums payments can be made on a half yearly, quarterly, monthly or even weekly basis.
Section 22 of the Workers Compensation Supplementation Fund Act currently requires that any surcharge of premiums must be paid at the start of the insurance period. The Government's legal advice is that this would prevent employers from spreading surcharge payments over the course of a year, in the same way that employers can spread premium costs over the course of a year.
This Bill amends the Act to allow surcharge payments to be collected on a more flexible basis, in the same way that premium payments can be made.
Mr Speaker, I ask the Assembly to support the Workers Compensation Supplementation Fund Amendment Bill 2002.Debate (on motion by Mr Pratt ) adjourned to the next sitting.
Ordered that executive business be called on.