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.

Greenslips

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.

Show Representatives

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.

Dairy Report

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.

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