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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2605 ..


(Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (5.14), in reply: To close the debate, I thank members for their comments on, and support for, this bill. It was important for this bill to be passed before 30 June. I acknowledge the short timeframe members were given to consider the bill. I also acknowledge the officers from the Chief Minister's Department, who ensured that all members who wished to be briefed were briefed on this bill within such a short timeframe.

I acknowledge the comments made by Ms Dundas in relation to her concerns about the government taking over a previously non-government area of responsibility. It certainly was not the desire of government to take on the possibility of workers compensation in light of a terrorist attack, but international events have forced this situation upon us. The legislation and temporary fund is definitely not a subsidy to the insurance industry-rather, it is an emergency vehicle to create a pool of money by which to provide necessary compensation funds to injured workers.

There is capacity within the act to impose levies for the fund and repayment of any compensation paid from the fund. Nevertheless, this would come into being only in the event of a terrorist attack. As I said in the presentation speech, the bill makes minor but important amendments to the Workers Compensation Act.

The purpose of the temporary reinsurance provisions for acts of terrorism is to ensure that, if a worker is injured or killed due to an act of terror, the worker or, in the case of the worker's death, the worker's family will be able to claim their existing entitlements under the Workers Compensation Act. It was hoped that we would not have to extend these provisions but we must remember the events in Bali last year and around the world. There was the hope that terrorism would not remain a concern for all of us, but the insurance industry was put off by those international events.

Whilst Mr Pratt says this is a band-aid approach, it is definitely only a two-year extension. We hope that, by that time, the insurance providers will have returned to the market and taken over this area of responsibility.

The other change to the act, through this bill, is to extend the definition of a registered auditor. We did not want to be in a position, come 1 July, where some employers, through no fault of their own, may have been in breach of the act because they were unable to obtain a registered auditor to certify wage and salary declarations. That was an important amendment too, and I acknowledge members' support.

I also acknowledge the short timeframe members had to consider this bill. It was in and out in a week, and I thank members very much. I also wish to acknowledge the Chief Minister's Department for getting this through and briefing members.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

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