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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3678 ..

MR PRATT: I present the following paper:

"Liberals delay financial respite for ACT business"-Copy of media release from Simon Corbell, MLA, dated 12 November 2002.

An incident having occurred in the gallery-

MR PRATT: I am sorry, Mr Speaker. I was distracted by the gallery.

MR SPEAKER: I would not take any notice of them, because they are out of order. If they want to get on with their gratuitous body language, they might do it outside.

MR PRATT: I was not talking about that gallery; I was talking about other galleries. If the supplementary funds need to be topped up in the future, will the government follow the lead of the previous Liberal government and fund that top-up rather than imposing on business to do that? Will they consider putting their hands into their pockets to support a very important ACT sector? I doubt it.

On the surface, the legislation is administratively practical-it seems fine-but there are major concerns that we must question. We seek a number of answers from government, particularly in relation to the actuarial assessment. We wait to see whether government will get in closer with business by consulting with them on the practicalities or otherwise of this legislation.

MS TUCKER (4.37): The Greens will be supporting this bill. Debate was adjourned on Tuesday when Mr Pratt for the Liberals raised concerns that key business groups had not been consulted. When we asked him for further detail on the concerns, he argued that perhaps this bill, in allowing incremental payment of any levy, would encourage people to take out inadequate workers compensation insurance.

However, adequate coverage is dependent on employers providing accurate information to their insurers and paying their premiums. The workers compensation supplementation fund was set up to spread the pain if and when an insurance company collapsed. It is, and always has been, funded by levies imposed on business. It has, however, had a surplus for many years and no levy has been imposed for some time.

The collapse of HIH has made, and will make, a significant impact on workers compensation cases in the ACT. In that context, through the special Appropriation Bill (HIH) in June last year, the Liberal government amended the act to allow the territory to contribute to the fund in order to cover extraordinary costs and manage such difficulties.

The following provisions allow for the territory to make such contributions:

25A Territory contributions to fund

(1) The Territory may contribute to the fund.

(2) However, the Territory is not obliged to contribute to the fund and is not liable to pay, or contribute to the payment of, any claim against the fund or any costs, expenses, fees or other amounts payable by the fund.

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