Page 4877 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 27 November 2018

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Labor-Greens government’s integrity, we must require rigorous accountability standards when establishing a new financial agency. We have seen far too many stories about this government playing fast and loose with its financial and governance responsibilities. For this reason we will be closely monitoring all aspects of the proposed public sector workers compensation fund.

The Canberra Liberals also have serious concern about the composition of the advisory committee for the new compensation fund. There will only be two members of the committee there to represent the interests of public sector bodies and advocate for the interests of the territory and its ratepayers. By contrast, three of the committee’s six members will be appointed by the minister to represent the interests of workers. This will all but guarantee that half of the positions on the committee will be doled out to the minister’s union mates.

This Labor-Greens government is setting up another body with significant spending authority to be controlled by its fellow travellers in the unions. This government continues to have far too cosy a relationship with militant unions. We have serious concerns about the union-dominated advisory committee having oversight over the large amount of public money that will be allocated to this fund.

Having said that, the Canberra Liberals support the stated aims of the public sector workers compensation fund and improving health and return to work outcomes for ACT public servants and other public sector workers. We support improving the efficiency of administrating public sector work and compensation claims. We will therefore be supporting the bill.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (4.41): This bill will set up a dedicated fund and governance arrangements for the quarantine and management of the ACT’s public sector workers compensation liabilities. The fund will be a separate reporting entity under the Financial Management Act. It will be subject to reporting obligations under the commonwealth Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act and will be managed and administered by a public sector workers compensation commissioner. The commissioner will determine the premium amount that is paid each financial year into the fund by the territory.

The bill also establishes a public sector workers compensation advisory committee. It will constitute the commissioner and members to represent workers and the ACT public service—that is, the employer. The committee’s functions include advising the minister on workers compensation claims administration. Payments made from the fund will only be able to be made for workers compensation liabilities and for the expenses associated with the fund and the commissioner.

Establishing the fund is a step necessary for the ACT to become a licensed workers compensation self-insurer under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act. As Minister Stephen-Smith has outlined, the territory’s public sector workers compensation claims are currently managed by Comcare. There are benefits to the territory becoming a licensed self-insurer. These include more control for the territory and improvements to the effectiveness and efficiency of the ACT public sector workers compensation claims management processes.

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