Changes to Workers Compensation Legislation
Echo 19 April 01
Changes to Workers Compensation Legislation
A number of people have conveyed to me their concerns about the
Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2001. The Opposition
has been equally concerned about the Carr Government's absence of a
reform program to stem the escalating unfunded liability which, has
blown out by $500 million in the last 6 months to a total of $2.18 billion.
This is devastating news for every workplace in our State. Recently
the Carr Labor Government hurriedly introduced the Bill with virtually
no prior consultation with employers, employees, unions, legal or
medical professions. Since then dissension within Government ranks,
together with threats of industrial disputation by the union movement,
has now seen the Government forced to delay the passage of this legislation.
This means that debate has been postponed until Parliament resumes in
late May. The Government is currently engaged in secret negotiations
with the NSW Labor Council and it is highly likely that amendments will
follow these negotiations. For its part, the Coalition wishes to see
what amendments the Government may be considering and will comment on
these when details are available. The Coalition endeavoured to establish
a judicial inquiry into workers compensation to fully identify, in a
public arena, what is chronically wrong with the system and what needs
to be done to rectify it. The Carr Labour Government used its numbers
in Parliament to prevent the inquiry being established. But these
actions in no way diminishes our commitment to an open public inquiry
into the workers compensation system and that the final decision is
based on sound research.
Despite promises by Premier Carr to cut Greenslip prices, indications
show that some motorists are being forced to pay almost $200 extra for
their third party insurance. An analysis of Greenslip prices had revealed
that a decision by the Carr Government to rezone boundaries for Greenslips,
was forcing motorists to pay more than ever for their premiums. Many
people have seen the cost of their Greenslips almost double. The
Coalition has slammed the Carr Government's decision to abolish the
pensioner discount for Greenslips, which had previously applied to all
pensioners, but which had now been restricted only to those aged over
55. This means that people such as sole parents or veterans have been
hit with a massive rise in the cost of their Greenslips. This is despite
the fact that in April 1999, Premier Carr assigned John Della Bosca,
to slash Greenslip prices by at least $100. This is just another
promise that the Carr Government has failed to deliver on.
Country Shows - Country Halls
In Parliament last week I had the opportunity of highlighting the
financial struggle of Show Societies, in meeting rising running costs.
To the individual rural communities the annual show means so much more
than an annual cash injection. Shows provide a focal point for many of
the far-flung communities in rural and regional NSW. It is their
window of local achievement - from livestock to sewing, preserving of
jam, cake making and lots more. I am concerned about the decline in
shows, being experienced both locally and regionally. Many country
people are just too busy trying to make ends meet to dedicate the hours
necessary to running shows. A large contingent of voluntary workers
enable shows to function and assist in the survival of community halls.
I have asked Minister Amery to acknowledge the difficulties being faced
and to increase funding meet increasing costs of maintaining showgrounds
and community halls.
It was the National Party's pleasure to host a morning tea recently
for the regional finalists of the Royal Easter Show Miss Showgirl
competition together with the finalists of the Rural Achievers Award at
Parliament House. Congratulations to all the finalists, including
North Coast National Show winner Michelle Strachan who was an outstanding
ambassador for the region. I was very impressed with the opportunity
to mix with a wonderful group of fine young people from rural NSW.
Cattle Tick Meeting
Following indications by the Minister for Agriculture that forecasted
changes to the cattle tick control program will proceed. A meeting is
being convened by the Casino Tick Committee (elected at the last meeting)
on Tuesday 1 May at the Casino RSM, commencing 7.00pm.
An Interim Report of the Impact of Dairy Deregulation and Assessment
Committee was tabled in Parliament and copies are available upon request.
I trust everyone enjoyed a safe and happy Easter.
I encourage everyone to participate and honour our servicemen and women in the Anzac Day activities next week.