TIME FOR ACTION ON WORKERS' COMPENSATION PREMIUMS

Workers Compensation Issues

TIME FOR ACTION ON WORKERS' COMPENSATION PREMIUMS

27 January 2000

Member for Lismore, Thomas George, has joined the NSW National Party Leader, George Souris, today in saying that a new levy to cover WorkCover's $1.6 billion deficit would be a further blow to rural and regional employers who are already struggling under crippling workers' compensation premiums.

Mr Souris said the average premium for employers in New South Wales was 2.95 per cent of wages but the Institute of Chartered Accountants has warned that if there are no improvements in debt level, a new levy may be introduced and premiums could blow out to an average of 3.7 per cent of wages.

"While the average premium across New South Wales is 2.95, the premiums for rural and regional industries such as abattoirs and farming and grazing are much higher. ie. The premium for abattoirs is 13.36 per cent of wages while the rate for farming and grazing is 10.36 per cent of wages," Mr George said.

"New South Wales employers are already paying the highest workers' compensation premiums in the country. For many businesses workers' compensation premiums are the second highest cost after wages. Major reforms are necessary to address the spiralling increase in premiums and control the huge deficit.

"Already, many business in country New South Wales are struggling to pay premiums, let alone any further increases being introduced. If the Carr Government doesn't implement major reforms to the present WorkCover system many businesses in rural and regional New South Wales will not survive and further valuable jobs in country communities will be lost," he said.

Mr George said it was time businesses were assessed for premiums on their individual requirements and risk rather than being hit because they were in a particular industry.

"Why should the rate for a computer operator working in an office at an abattoir be 13.36 per cent of wages when the rate for a computer operator working in an office at an accountancy firm is 0.52 per cent?

"I frequently receive correspondence and calls from local businesses on the topic of workers' compensation premiums daily.

"One major regional employer estimates he will pay over $1.3 million in premiums in the coming year - an increase of $150,000 on last year despite the tariff level remaining the same and accident levels markedly decreasing.

"The Institute of Chartered Accountants has estimated that a typical business working in a high-risk rural industry will face a $2 million annual hike in premiums for 30 employees if the premiums rise from the current average of 2.95 per cent of wages to 3.7 per cent.

"That is simply unsustainable for many country businesses. Without major changes to WorkCover the competitiveness of businesses in country New South Wales will continue to suffer.

"In border regions where the issue of workers' compensation is a major cross-border anomaly, jobs and new businesses will bypass New South Wales and go to Queensland," Mr George concluded

Lismore Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403
Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Murwillumbah Contact Details:

Telephone: 02 6672 7577