Page 2889 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 5 August 2008

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I note that the regulations are to be made. The regulations can perhaps have all those things in them. But we are flying a little blind here and I think in an area as important as this it is crucially important that we do actually get it right. I think it would be sensible at least to have something along the lines that New South Wales has whereby basically the modifications really had to be directed by a medical practitioner.

The medical practitioner treating the worker surely will know what is actually required, what the worker needs, what sort of period of time is likely for the worker to improve, if at all, and just add some effective sort of substance here and some objectivity in terms of how all this is going to be assessed, because we are flying somewhat blind here.

I probably will not have time now to put in the required amendment to that. I would like to talk to the minister further in relation to that. I will support the bill in principle, but at the detail stage I would like to make some amendments which just make this bill a bit more objective, make it more effective to bring it in line with, basically, the procedures which Comcare adopts and also which the New South Wales Workers Compensation Act 1987 actually adopts, which is something that obviously seems to have worked quite well. I think it is a crucially important piece of legislation. It is really important that workers’ homes are modified when they suffer injury at work, but I think it is equally important we get it right.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.07): I understand that the provisions of this bill do not come as any surprise to the relevant stakeholders. It is appropriate that adjustments to a person’s living situation, where necessary, be covered by workers compensation, and I note that the ACT government essentially borrows from provisions in New South Wales that appear to work well.

The scrutiny committee raised a number of questions regarding the framing of these provisions. I am pleased to note that the government has addressed these concerns, more or less, by revising the explanatory statement. There are other issues which could be cleaned up in regard to the ACT scheme, but I think the fact is that we still have a scheme which offers journey cover to workers, provides common law rights and pays particular regard to the needs of families of people who are seriously or catastrophically injured at work.

I would be interested to know whether there is any talk of extending the coverage that employees of the commonwealth or, indeed, ACT public servants, enjoy in order to match the best features of the ACT system. Finally, I would like to affirm my support for the tripartite approach—which means here workers, government and employers—which has served this scheme and the ACT so well.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (5.08), in reply: I thank members for their comments. I know Mr Stefaniak has some concerns in relation to the regulations. But I think it worth going back to the key features of the bill. It seeks to clarify the kinds of things that employees can be compensated for following a work-related injury.

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