Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 5 May 2016) . . Page.. 1662 ..
through litigation are drawn out and costly. The report said that the creation of the national injury scheme will avoid many of the deficiencies of common law compensation schemes and improve outcomes for people with catastrophic injuries.
The commission said the scheme will reduce the legal and frictional costs associated with the current fault-based adversarial arrangements. It said that the NIIS will promote rehabilitation, adjustment and employment. It also determined that lump sum payments can delay early access to medical treatment, lead to poorer health outcomes and are subject to the uncertainty of predicting an injured person’s lifetime care needs.
I find these arguments persuasive, and I also think it is appropriate that we implement the NIIS as recommended, not in some kind of hybrid opt-in, opt-out system. This is also the system agreed to by states and territories. It would be administratively difficult to operate a dual system where people could opt in or out.
I also note that the Productivity Commission recommended that jurisdictions with a small client base such as the ACT essentially piggyback off a larger jurisdiction’s scheme, and that is what the ACT is doing by using the New South Wales scheme. This of course also provides an incentive to mirror the New South Wales scheme. It should be noted that injured workers in the lifetime care and support scheme can still take a common law action in relation to economic loss and non-economic loss, but obviously their treatment and care will now be covered by the LTS scheme.
The Law Society have also raised with me an issue about dispute resolution arrangements. Like other issues they have raised, I want to say that while I do understand where they are coming from and I have considered their concerns closely, I do not actually agree. I think the dispute resolution mechanisms in the scheme are appropriate. Two stages of review are available and involve a panel of health professionals who are experts in relevant fields. There is also an appropriate opportunity for legal experts to be involved when legal-technical issues are part of the dispute.
Lastly, I will just mention that a requirement already exists to review the lifetime care and support act after five years. If we discover in some way that the scheme is not working well or not meeting the needs of those who are participating in it, then that review will give us a useful mechanism for addressing it. To conclude, I welcome the introduction of this second stage of the scheme, just as I welcomed the first stage. I am confident it will serve well the people and families who suffer tragic catastrophic injuries in the workplace, just as the first stage has done for people suffering catastrophic injuries from motor vehicle accidents.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Urban Renewal) (5.39), in reply: I thank the shadow treasurer in his absence and Minister Rattenbury for their contributions to the debate. This bill extends the lifetime care and support scheme to cover private sector work accidents and is part of ongoing national developments in response to the Productivity Commission’s report into disability care and support which was published in 2011.