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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2106 ..

Title read by acting clerk.


(Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (10.57): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, many of us here today, together with a substantial group of our partners in the community, have demonstrated their commitment to the reform of the ACT workers compensation scheme over a long period of time. This bill makes minor but important amendments to the Workers Compensation Act 1951.

The amendments are supported by the ACT Occupational Health and Safety Council's workers compensation advisory committee, which includes representatives of employers, unions, approved workers compensation insurers and the medical, rehabilitation and legal professions. The committee has worked diligently over the first year of the new scheme to assist the government and the scheme participants to manage the substantial changes to the scheme that commenced on 1 July 2002. The bill that I table today is a result of the continuing interest and commitment shown by the members of the committee over the last year.

The government would like to enact the bill's two minor but critical amendments by 30 June 2003. The bill will extend the operation of the temporary provisions for acts of terrorism and make changes to the auditing requirements for wages declarations for the purposes of the workers compensation policies.

In June 2002 the act was amended to include temporary reinsurance provisions for acts of terrorism. The bill would extend the operation of the temporary reinsurance provisions in chapter 15 of the Workers Compensation Act 1951 that came into effect if territory workers are injured or killed in a terrorist attack. These provisions were passed following the withdrawal of private sector reinsurance coverage for acts of terrorism in early 2002 in the wake of the World Trade Centre attacks.

The provisions ensure that workers compensation insurers can meet their obligations to fully insure for all work-related risks by establishing a temporary emergency reinsurance fund that will come into operation only in the event of a terrorist attack. The provisions were given a temporary lifespan covering attacks up to 1 April 2004 in order to engage private sector reinsurers back into the market at the earliest opportunity. However, recent world political events mean that it is very unlikely that private sector companies will be offering realistic and affordable terrorism coverage for some time yet.

The attached bill will extend the application of the temporary provisions for acts of terrorism for a further two years, applying to terrorist events that occur before 1 April 2006, with the provisions themselves expiring on 1 October 2006. These provisions need to be passed during the current sittings as insurers are already writing workers compensation policies covering periods after 1 April 2004, when the current provisions cease application.

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