Page 4104 - Week 13 - Thursday, 31 October 2013

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Employer stakeholders were also consulted through the Work Safety Council, which has four members representing employers. And my feedback was that the government had not received any negative feedback from employers.

In conclusion, I think the rationale for this bill and the reform it proposes to work health and safety funding is quite clear. We all want improved safety and wellbeing in ACT workplaces, and there are clearly problems that we need to address. The insurer levy provides a sustainable funding base for these improvements provided by the beneficiaries of the regime. And on that basis I am pleased to support it.

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) (12.17), in reply: I thank Mr Rattenbury for his support of this bill. I am disappointed that the Canberra Liberals have chosen not to support a reform that will equitably and fairly place the cost of enforcing work safety regulation here in the territory in the sector which actually benefits from it. That, of course, is the purpose of this bill, rather than continuing to accept that the taxpayer should meet the full costs associated with enforcement of work safety regulation which is to the benefit of only a particular part of the economy.

The government announced that it would end the community subsidisation of the territory’s work injury management system in February this year. Until 2013 the government had expended around $5 million per annum on administering and regulating the territory’s work health and safety and workers compensation laws. In most Australian states these costs are wholly or partly met by a levy on insurers or through workers compensation premiums. Under those types of arrangements, the costs of running the work injury management system is borne by the system users rather than the community and taxpayers as a whole.

In July this year ACT workers compensation regulatory costs were transferred from the budget to a levy on workers compensation insurers. And that change was implemented under existing laws. However, legislative amendment is needed to similarly transfer the cost of administering work health and safety laws.

The Workers Compensation Amendment Bill will amend the Workers Compensation Act to allow costs incurred by government in administering the territory’s work health and safety laws to also be apportioned to workers compensation insurers. The changes allow the government to gradually transfer the cost of regulating work health and safety from the territory budget to a levy on workers compensation insurers commencing from 1 July next year.

Insurers are expected to pass some or all of these costs on to employers via their workers compensation premiums. Consequently, once the new funding arrangements have been fully implemented, the price of a workers compensation policy will more accurately reflect the true cost of work injury prevention and management in the territory. These funding changes are an important part of a wider suite of work injury management reforms announced in February this year to support the expansion of the ACT work safety inspectorate and encourage industry to improve work safety practices.

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