Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2312 ..
These are not the kinds of things people light and throw at each other. Yet I know of schoolboys who were able to access these things, and they were throwing them at each other. These fireworks will kill. If we continue to allow them to be brought into the territory, and to be sold, then we are being negligent.
There have been six years of trying to tighten up the law. However, the law can work only with the compliance, acceptance and will of those involved in it; with heavy-handed and draconian regulations and enforcement; or you need to change it and move away from it. The fact is that we have something like 37 tonnes of illegal fireworks. It is going to cost us, as a jurisdiction, $465,000 to destroy those. That is a waste of government resources. It is money that could be better spent on hip replacements, education, providing shelter for the homeless and looking after our aged people.
We, as a party room, took the decision-based on the overwhelming number of phone calls, emails, letters, et cetera received-that it was now time to say to the industry, "We are sorry, but you have had six years in which to clean up the act. The act has not been cleaned up, so it should go."That was the basis of the decision.
Several questions were asked of the commissioner, including some on the effectiveness of the workers compensation provisions put in place last year. Comments were made that things seem to be going well at this stage, although we have not completed a full year.
We are certainly only at the start of the new data sets, but it did look as if there was a downturn in legal action and an upturn in rehabilitation. That is probably a good thing. We are coming up to the first period of premiums. They fall due on 1 July. It will be interesting to see the effect of the new legislation on those premiums.
We did not get into a great deal of the detail because it was late in the day when WorkCover appeared. Nevertheless, the commissioner has always had some wonderful charts to show us of the progress of the WorkCover organisation.
The figures provided to the committee show that, in comparison with the rest of Australia, the ACT is doing well, but we should not be complacent. WorkCover is an issue that should be dear to the hearts of all Assembly members, simply because it affects all of our constituents. We certainly support the passing of line 1.5, which covers ACT WorkCover.
MR STEFANIAK(4.38): I will not delve into what the committee is presently looking at. It is yet to make its report, and we are yet to get fully into our deliberations. We are at the draft stage. However, there are a couple of points worth making in this debate. If I rely on some facts given to the committee in a peripheral way for the purpose of its inquiry, they are relevant to the issue of WorkCover and this budget item.
I am pleased to see significant advances made in the operation of WorkCover; how workers in industries are responding; and that we are seeing distinct improvements in the area of occupational health and safety.