Lawyers furious about changes to the Queensland workers compensation scheme


Lawyers are furious about proposed changes to the Queensland state’s workers compensation scheme have vowed to cruel the re-election chances of Government MPs. Shine Lawyers, of the state’s highest profile personal injury law firms has predicted losing millions of dollars in profit of changes to Queensland workers’ compensation laws, due to be passed in Parliament on Thursday (= Yesterday 17 Oct).

Lawyers furious about proposed changes to the Queensland workers compensation scheme

Lawyers threaten Queensland Government over WorkCover crackdown

October 17, 2013

Lawyers are furious about proposed changes to the Queensland state’s workers compensation scheme have vowed to cruel the re-election chances of Government MPs.

Several MPs say they have received letters from lawyer constituents warning they would actively campaign to ensure they were not re-elected if they did not take a stand against the WorkCover amendments.

The changes include a cap on common-law claims and tougher penalties for those who lodge fraudulent compensation claims.

The rules will likely cost the legal fraternity millions, according to one prominent firm. The laws are set to be passed by State Parliament today.

The Courier- Mail has obtained a letter sent to one MP by a lawyer and constituent which stated: “If these anticipated changes are brought in, I will do my very best to ensure that your career … is a short one.

“If your government shows that it does not have the strength to stand up to this pressure, or for some ideological or other reason, introduces changes to restrict the entitlements of Queensland workers to pursue claims for damages because of the negligence of their employers, I will do everything I can to ensure you are not elected at the next election.”

Another MP said they received a letter which stated: “This has been a disgraceful, underhand course of conduct. I will do my very best to ensure that at the next election you are not re-elected.”

Businesses have welcomed the WorkCover changes, which include a 5 per cent injury threshold for common law claims and tougher penalties for those caught out lodging fraudulent claims, predicting they will lead to smaller premiums.

Unions and lawyers, however, say imposing the threshold will disadvantage thousands of Queensland workers who will no longer be able to pursue negligent employers through the courts.

High-profile law firm Shine told the Australian Stock Exchange on Tuesday the changes could cost it up to $2.5 million in lost profit.

Shine managing director Simon Morrison said the changes would be felt in the 2014-15 financial year. But he said the company would adapt.


Law firms predict big WorkCover losses

17 October 2013

Shine Lawyers managing director Simon Morrison.Shine Lawyers managing director Simon Morrison. Photo: Glenn Hunt

One of the state’s highest profile personal injury law firms has predicted losing millions of dollars in profit of changes to workers’ compensation laws, due to be passed in Parliament on Thursday.

Shine Corporate Limited announced to the ASX on Wednesday that the government’s proposed 5 per cent injury threshold, predicted to halve the number of cases eligible for a common law remedy, could reduce its 2014/15 net profit by between $2 million and $2.5 million.

The government introduced its amended WorkCover legislation earlier this week. Once passed, it will be harder to sue a negligent employer, penalties will increase for fraudulent claims and employers will have access to worker’s injury and claim history.
Qld Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie speaking to media about the Qld government's proposed changes to bail in relation to  motorcycle gang members.(Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie. Photo: Glenn Hunt – on right side)

All workers will still be entitled to statutory compensation and journey claims.

But the change to common law claims will impact the bottom line of personal liability law firms, which had lobbied hard against changing the scheme.

Shine’s managing director, Simon Morrison, said the predicted change in profit was limited to the Queensland arm of the company.

“Shine has adjusted successfully to these types of reforms in other states and is well placed to adapt to the Queensland reforms which should begin to flow through from next financial year,” he said in a statement to the ASX.

Shine Lawyers was established by former Labor Attorney-General and Toowoomba MP Kerry Shine.

Slater & Gordon also released a statement to the stock exchange but announced but the impact of the legislation would be lessened because Queensland worker’s compensation represented just 5 per cent of its total group revenue for the 2014-15 financial year.

“We are fortunate that we have an agile business that is able to adapt to legislative change; it is an unfortunate situation for Queensland workers who are facing a reduction in their rights and access to compensation as a result of these foreshadowed laws.”

The Australian Lawyer’s Alliance said a ReachTel poll conducted on Ashgrove voters, where the Premier holds his seat, on Tuesday night found 58.5 per cent of voters would be “less likely” to vote for the LNP at the next election because of the WorkCover changes.

The changes have been subjected to fierce opposition by both lawyers and unions, but business lobby groups have welcomed them as an avenue for possibly reducing premiums.

Currently the Queensland scheme costs employers $1.45 for every $100 in wages and is the second lowest premium of all the states.

While lawyers have launched a media attack to counter the changes, the unions plan to protest outside parliament house on Thursday afternoon.

Queensland Councils of Unions president John Battams said New South Wales workers would share their stories at the rally, detailing their “struggles under an inferior workers’ compensation scheme”.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the legislation changes was about making the scheme “fairer for all”, including employers (WTF)

The amendments to the WorkCover act will be passed before the end of the day (17 Oct)


Qld workers comp laws will be envy of all, says Bleijie – WTF!

APN Newsdesk
15th Oct 2013 1:37 PM

QUEENSLAND Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie will introduce changes to State Parliament this week that he claims will restore the workers compensation scheme as the envy of every other state.

Mr Bleijie said the scheme will be the fairest in the nation, with the most coverage for workers and the lowest premiums for employers.

“Our scheme will put the focus back on injury management, rehabilitation and return to work outcomes for injured workers and a competitive premium for employers,” he said.

“Queensland workers will continue to be protected under changes to strengthen the existing system.

“We want workers to be covered, even when they are travelling to and from work, so journey claims will be retained.

“Queensland will be the only State to provide this type of coverage,” he said.

Mr Bleijie said the State Government was also taking measures to protect businesses from outlandish claims and skyrocketing premiums.

“Access to common law claims will remain in Queensland, except for those with a medically assessed injury of 5% or less,” Mr Bleijie said.

“Every injured worker will continue to be covered under the statutory no fault compensation system which includes payment for lost wages, medical treatment and access to lump sum compensation.

“We want to help injured workers get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams said the plan to change the access to common law claims was a blow for Queensland workers.

“Removing this for injured workers will undoubtedly sentence some Queensland families to poverty,” he said.

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Being cynical sounds like lawyers are more upset about losing income than out of any real concern for employees having their rights cut.


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