Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 February 2008) . . Page.. 25 ..
and Safety Services Pty Ltd, Dibbs Abbott Stillman and Cumpston Sarjeant Pty Ltd, released last August, pointed to falling legal costs but an increase in weekly payments and rehabilitation costs. While that might be expected given the shift in focus of the scheme away from legal contest and to rehabilitation, the reviewers could find—and this is a point I would like to emphasise—no evidence of more timely or effective rehabilitation. I also have fairly strong anecdotal evidence that many workers find the rehabilitation regime oppressive and offensive, and that occupational therapists and case managers are often unable to effectively find work for clients. This suggests that there is a role for employers to be a little more open about providing employment for people in these situations.
While I accept the principles of the third-party insurance scheme that this bill puts into effect, which echo those of workers compensation, there is a lot more work that now needs to be done, in terms of both data collection and injury management and rehabilitation, if this scheme is going to deliver the human outcomes we hope for.
We have spoken to the Chief Minister’s office raising concerns about quality assurance vis-a-vis medical and occupational rehabilitation, and the costs that go with them. While I am prepared to support this bill, I look forward to revisiting some of the details within it when we have a better idea of how it works. For that reason, I am pleased to say that pretty much every amendment that has come before us today appears to be an improvement on the original bill. While, as always, one would like to have more time to look at and consider those, given that this is pretty important legislation, I nonetheless appreciate the fact that up to the last moment the bill is being improved.
I myself have added to the paper warfare with an amendment to Mr Smyth’s amendment. Just to highlight the main point in the presentation I have just made, that is because we have to consider the way that the changes in the legislation will impact on the claimants’ wellbeing, health and ability to return to work. After all, that is really what it is all about.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts) (11.53), in reply: As members are aware, the ACT compulsory third-party insurance scheme was a legacy of the time before self-government. The scheme was untouched for 60 years. For the first 20 years of the scheme there were a number of providers of CTP in the territory and territorians could choose which to engage. One by one, however, they withdrew until one remained, namely, NRMA Insurance Ltd.
Unfortunately, CTP has become more complex than at the time NRMA became the sole CTP insurance provider for Canberrans. The common law has changed, medical science has changed, data and statistical information has become more accessible and legal practice has changed. The structure of the whole insurance industry has changed. People’s attitudes, their mobility and their expectations have changed. Until 22 November 2007, the ACT CTP scheme had not changed to accommodate any of these developments.