Yes, it is unworkable, all of it is
A PROVISION in new workers’ compensation laws that makes injured workers pay their own legal costs is unworkable, a Work Cover inquiry has found.
New compo costs ‘unworkable’
Work Cover appointed a group of lawyers and insurers to review the laws and it recommended the controversial provision should be removed.
The group said the costs provision would lead to an increase in the number of unrepresented parties and raise the workers’ compensation scheme’s administration costs.
”The provision is contrary to the long-standing rule that costs should follow the event so as to indemnify the successful party,” the report says.
”The current costs regime has kept disputation to a minimum and delivers certainty and equitable delivery of legal services on both sides.”
Christian Democratic Party MP Fred Nile introduced the amendment to the government’s workers’ compensation bill in the early hours of the morning during its passage through the upper house of Parliament.
The Law Society of NSW and the NSW Bar Association have written to the Finance Minister, Greg Pearce, warning the amendment will create ”chaos”.
”We are seriously concerned that this removes the incentive for insurance companies to support legitimate claims.”
Mr Pearce responded by saying the government does not have a majority in the upper house of Parliament.
”In seeking to engage further on the issue, I would encourage you to discuss such matters with the Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters and Fishers Party,” Mr Pearce said.
The Greens MP David Shoebridge said it was an ”extraordinary surrender of government policy”.
“The government voted for this disastrous change to the compensation system despite it being told at the time it was unworkable,” he said.
“It is irresponsible for the government to now say that it is up to Fred Nile and the Shooters to fix this.”
Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon said it was disingenuous for the government to make Mr Nile responsible for removing the amendment.
“If the state government is genuine about ensuring sick and injured workers are not financially crippled by lodging workers compensation claims, it should approach the Labor Party and the Greens to pass an amendment,” he said. “The government cannot hide behind the crossbenchers on this issue.”
The president of the Law Society of NSW, Justin Dowd, said the government had distanced itself from the Nile provision on the basis that it does not control cross benches in the upper house.
“This is a tenuous argument, given that the whole reform process has been generated by the government’s legislation,” Mr Dowd said.
Mr Pearce said the issue of costs remained a priority for discussion and welcomed the involvement of the Law Society and Bar Association in ongoing consultations.
“It is not unreasonable for the government to propose discussion of the issue with the CDP [Christian Democratic Party] and SFP [Shooters and Fishers Party]. It makes sense that various parties discuss costs with those that proposed such amendments,” he said.