Page 3072 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013

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I commend the Land Rent Amendment Bill 2013 to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth) adjourned to the next sitting.

Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2013

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (10.12): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2013 is an important piece of legislation that delivers on the government’s commitment to strengthen work safety arrangements in the territory. The bill amends the Workers Compensation Act 1951 by allowing costs incurred by government on administering the territory’s work health and safety legislation to be apportioned to workers compensation insurers. The bill reflects a modernised approach to work injury management funding and will bring the ACT’s arrangements into close alignment with other Australian jurisdictions, including New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

The reforms set out in the bill form part of a wider suite of work injury management reforms announced in February of this year to support the expansion of the ACT work safety inspectorate. Members will recall that the 2012 getting home safely inquiry into construction industry work safety compliance highlighted a need for urgent action on the part of all ACT industries to address poor work safety cultures and achieve ambitious injury reduction targets. The government accepted all 28 of the inquiry’s recommendations and has committed to a range of actions to strengthen the ACT’s work safety compliance and enforcement regime. These measures include introducing new powers for work safety inspectors and an increase in the number of inspectors. These are important but not inexpensive measures.

Up until 2013 the government was expending in excess of $5 million per annum to regulate, administer, review and reform the laws and other arrangements that underpin the territory’s work health and safety and workers compensation systems. Together, these systems constitute a work injury management framework that exists for the benefits of employers and workers.

In most Australian states work injury management costs are substantially funded by either employers or workers compensation insurers and self-insurers. The ACT is an exception. Here, until this year, only a fraction of these regulatory costs were passed on to the system’s beneficiaries, with the remainder funded from consolidated revenue. By bearing these costs, the general community was subsidising the price of employers’ workers compensation insurance.

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