Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2040 ..
The success to date of our new workers compensation is, however, an encouraging indication. In another year or so the figures from the ACT scheme may provide a stronger basis from which to argue for this scheme. Similarly-and this may be a little fanciful, given the state of the world-we might be in a better position to draw in insurance businesses when they have recovered from the panic and cost of the past couple of years.
Finally, there is a fundamental problem in the drafting of this bill-that is, there is no link between the body taking a risk and the body carrying the risk. We are talking about an industry-based insurance scheme which could only be funded by evaluating the risk, balancing premiums against that risk, and so building into the relationship a real incentive for minimising risk, and so minimising injury, and that is a very fundamental flaw because this bill does not do that.
I think the case could be made to refer this bill to a committee, although a massive amount of work would need to be done. Better, I think, would be for us to revisit the notion and do the additional work necessary some time in the next couple of years.
MR SMYTH(Leader of the Opposition) (4.28), in reply: I might start with some of the comments that Ms Tucker made. She said there is no system in place to implement this scheme. Well, the system is there through the workers compensation scheme. There are systems in the insurance companies that could cope with this now. Yes, they would have to be expanded; yes, there would be a little up-front cost; but I reject the notion that this would be a more expensive scheme long term. I believe it will not be, because what we will have is early intervention, and that early intervention has been proven time and time again to be far more effective for the victim and far more cost effective long term for those that support the victim, the injured person.
The point was made that perhaps we could look at it in a couple more years. Well, I reject that because in a couple more years more people will have been trapped in a system that says it is better to wait six or seven years, fight it through the courts, get the compensation, and get well. It doesn't work that way, and I think we are negligent if we say, "Let's leave it for a couple more years."
There is work to do because the regulations will have to be drafted, and I don't have that capacity to do that as an opposition member. I don't think we should be afraid to say that big packages of reform can come from an opposition. It might be a case of "how dare the opposition have the temerity to put forward a major package of reform". But what are we all here for, what are we here to do? I am not here in opposition simply to oppose the government. I and my party are here to represent the people of Canberra and to get a better deal for them. Change the start date, make the start date 1 July 2004-that would allow for 13 months for additional work, if required, to be done.
I accept what Ms Dundas said about the adventure sports bill and the legal practitioners bill. The adventure sports one was done at a time when sporting industries, particularly the equestrian industry in Canberra, were under great pressure. I understand it has been put in place in Victoria and works quite well.