The Greens have, rightly, totally ridiculed the so-called restoration of journey [travel] claims in the NSW workers’ comp amendment Bill, which passed through the Upper House on Friday. Fact is that workers who are injured while travelling between their home and place of employment would only be entitled to workcover if there is “a real and substantial connection between the employment and the accident or incident out of which the personal injury arose”.
New journey claim in passed NSW workers comp Bill offers no protection
The removal of journey claims from the NSW Workers Compensation Act 1987 was undoubtedly – in our injured opinion- one of the more controversial provisions of the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2012.
MP David Shoebridge [The Greens] said that MP Fred Nile [ Christian Democrats] told protesting firefighters, nurses and teachers that he had “saved journey claims” during negotiations with the Government. But what has Fred really “saved”?
Under MP Fred Nile’s accepted amendment , “workers who were injured while travelling between their place of residence and place of employment would only be entitled to workers’ compensation if there was “a real and substantial connection between the employment and the accident or incident out of which the personal injury arose”.
For example, as Trinny pointed out, take the Nurse: Nurses in some states work up to 12 hour day and night shifts. Not just sitting around a nurses station all night but hands on patient care. Often highly dependent patients. Understaffed. Running flat out all shift. The fatigue, trauma and stresses can be enormous. Night staff who work 4-7 nights consecutively . (Un-staffed by the budget cuts to hospitals) and rotating rosters. Added to the stress some nurses still do the dreaded late and early shift where they end a shift at 11 pm and start again at 7 am. If the nurse travels some distance to and from work. Their sleeping time is greatly reduced. There is now a high chance of sleep deprivation, coupled with fatigue. Nurses are at a high risk of an accident to and from their employment….!
So, the fatigued, overworker Nurse has an accident on the way to or from her/his work…. will workcover be liable? Right, you can see from here that they will come up with any excuse possible to state that “this is the job requirement”, “whether you can’t sleep during the day or adapt to night/day in a blink or an eye” is “your problem”, whether you have 4 kids to look after during the day whilst you work nights is “your problem too”, and so fort and so forth… See what we’re saying? Chances are that Nurses will NOT be covered.
It is worth remembering that under the old provisions s10(3)(a) of the Act, a journey injury was compensable if sustained during “daily or other periodic journeys between the worker’s place of abode and place of employment”. Huge difference, hey!
Lucky Firefighters and paramedics
The powerful and great idea by the NSW firies to walk off the job – for the first time since 1956 – proved extremely effective, and “paramedics and firefighters” have successfully been exempted from the new laws, THANKS to the GREENS (a Greens amendment). This clearly shows that nothing is impossible and that the Butcher will have no choice but to cave in under massive pressure. As we stated before, power is in numbers and you are that power.
As part of their protest, and in order to obtain the same level of cover as police officers (who are exempted under S12 of the Bill) Fire Brigade Employees Union (FBEU) members refused to work between 1pm and 6pm.
The media (and the Butcher) was quick to allege that the firies were “unable” to attend a house fire in Sydney (Ramsgate) until at least half an hour after the emergency call, were in fact the firies attended and put out the fire within 14 minutes. Any suggestion to the contrary is deliberately misleading, according to a FBEU statement.
Procedure of a “bill”
Once introduced, a bill must go through a number of stages before it can become law. In theory, this allows the bill’s provisions to be debated in detail [ahum- in this case...], and for amendments to the original bill to also be introduced, debated, and agreed to.
A draft Act of Parliament is known as a bill.
In Australia, the bill passes through the following stages:
- First Reading: Again, this stage is a mere formality.
- Second Reading: As in the UK, the stage involves a debate on the general principles of the bill is followed by a vote. Again, the Second Reading of a Government bill is usually approved. A defeat for a Government bill on this Reading signifies a major loss. If the bill is read a second time, it is then considered in detail
- Consideration in Detail: This usually takes place on the Floor of the House. Generally, committees are not used to consider the bill in detail.
- Third reading: A debate on the final text of the bill, as amended. Very rarely do debates occur during this stage.
- Passage: The Bill is then sent to the other House (to the Senate, if it originated in the House of Representatives; to the Representatives, if it is a Senate Bill), which may amend it. If the other House amends the Bill, the Bill and amendments are sent back to the original House for a further stage.
- Consideration of Senate/Representatives Amendments: The House in which the bill originated considers the amendments made in the other House. It may agree to them, amend them, propose other amendments in lieu or reject them. However, the Senate may not amend Money Bills, though it can “request” the House to make amendments. A Bill may pass backwards and forwards several times at this stage, as each House amends or rejects changes proposed by the other. If each House insists on disagreeing with the other, the Bill is lost.
- Disagreement between the Houses: Often, when a bill cannot be passed in the same form by both Houses, it is “laid aside.” Sometimes, a special constitutional procedure allowing the passage of the bill without the agreement of both houses is allowed. If the House twice passes the same bill, and the Senate twice fails to pass that bill (either through rejection or through the passage of unacceptable amendments), then the Governor-General may dissolve both Houses of Parliament. If the House again passes the bill after the election, but the deadlock between the Houses persists, then the Governor-General may convene a joint sitting of both Houses, where a final decision will be taken on the bill. The procedure only applies if the bill originated in the House of Representatives. Six double-dissolutions have occurred, though a joint session only became necessary once.