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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4257 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

business groups, on the impact that this bill may have on both Canberra employers and employees.

There has been undeniable concern about the use of strict liability offences, Mr Speaker, and my office has spoken several times to the minister's office about those concerns and the possible paths forward. Pleasingly, the government have taken note of the Assembly committee's concerns expressed on the same issue and have taken the initiative to amend their legislation accordingly.

Mr Speaker, the minister's office has acknowledged these concerns, and it has turned out well that we have been able to work with the minister on what appears to be a pretty clear and straightforward case. Thus, we have come to an agreement about the use of strict liability offences that seems to be satisfactory.

Therefore, Mr Speaker, we don't support the amendment distributed out of session by Ms Dundas regarding the defence of due diligence. We think it is fundamentally important that companies and individuals be held accountable for failure to comply with legislation relative to strict liability.

The Liberal opposition believes, Mr Speaker, that the discussions we have had with the minister's office and the agreement that has been settled upon, as seen with the government's late amendment to the bill, are an adequate and rational compromise between strict liability and due diligence, while still complying with the Criminal Code 2002.

That issue aside, Mr Speaker, the Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2003 (No 2) primarily deals with cross-border arrangements that will bring us in line with New South Wales when their legislation will commence. In addition to bringing us in line with our neighbours, Mr Speaker, it also gives improved flexibility for employers who employ people from other states or territories. The bill give clarity to how employees may be covered by their employers when working in another state or territory, seconded around Australia or contracted to travel around Australia.

The bill, Mr Speaker, gives clarity to both employees and employers in the area of workers compensation and adds value to the previous act. This bill, with the government's late amendments, is supported by numerous business groups around the ACT, including the ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We believe that this bill is of value to both Canberra business and the wider community. Therefore, we do support it, and we also support the government's late amendments.

Sitting suspended from 6.26 to 8.00 pm.

MS DUNDAS (8.00): Mr Speaker, many of the changes included in this bill are taken straight from the recent changes to the New South Wales workers compensation act. In particular, schedule 1 of this bill relates to cross-border arrangements for workers compensation, which have been the subject of a national agreement to clarify laws relating to workers compensation.

This will ensure that there is a greater certainty about which state or territory scheme applies to each worker and will prevent workers from missing out on cover or claiming

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