The LNP government’s changes to workers’ compensation QLD rammed through Parliament last Thursday will hit the most vulnerable in our society – the families and children of injured workers.
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Fact: Every worker, young or old, CEO or trainee, whether you’re indoors or out, whether you’re a tradesperson or a professional, whether you drive 100kms to work or catch the bus for 10 minutes, is at risk of a workplace injury or illness.
Queensland currently has the best operating workers compensation scheme in Australia, with low premiums to employers and fair compensation to employees. The Queensland scheme is financially viable and provides valuable protection for workers and employers alike.
This year, a Parliamentary Committee undertook a review of Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme, finding that it was strong, resilient and efficient. In fact the scheme is considered the most effective in the nation.
However, in spite of the Committee’s report, the Newman Government has consistently refused to guarantee the future of Queensland’s nation-leading workers’ compensation scheme and seems content to let the Brisbane business lobby do it’s job in talking about the future of the scheme.
Despite repeated requests, the Minister responsible, Attorney General, Mr Jarrod Bleijie has refused to accept the Parliamentary Committee report.
If Mr Bleijie won’t listen to the Parliamentary Committee, perhaps he will listen to thousands of Queensland voters.
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Qld Parliament passes new workers compensation laws despite protests
Controversial laws to change Queensland’s workers compensation scheme have been passed after passionate debate in Parliament last Thursday.
The legislation limits the injuries for which workers can sue employers, angering unions and lawyers.
Labor and the minor parties opposed the laws.
The Government drew more criticism when it guillotined parliamentary debate on the laws at midnight (AEST).
Independent MP Liz Cunningham says details escaped scrutiny.
“It’s a very emotive Bill and one that we haven’t had a lot of time to either digest or to properly debate,” she said.
She became emotional after recounting her family’s experience when her father was hurt on the job, telling the House the scheme should not have been changed.
“It will disadvantage families at a time when they are most vulnerable because of injuries and most vulnerable to family disconnect and most vulnerable to financial hardship,” she said.
The Opposition says some Government MPs will lose their seats because of changes to workers compensation laws.
Labor MP Bill Byrne says the laws will change votes.
“LNP members will lose their seats over this issue,” he said.
However, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie says public consensus was impossible.
“We haven’t pleased the business community – they wanted more,” he said.
“We haven’t pleased lawyers – they wanted less.”
He moved an amendment to give injured workers an extra option to appeal medical assessments.
Changes will ‘benefit the rural sector’
Meanwhile, the Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF) has welcomed the State Government’s changes to the workers compensation scheme.
QFF chief executive officer Dan Galligan says farmers have faced rising premiums for the past decade.
He says some of the changes to Queensland’s WorkCover compensation scheme will benefit the rural sector.
Mr Galligan says the Government is on the right track in reducing to reduce premiums for employers.
“One of the reasons why premiums in workers compensation continue to rise, is because of the ongoing struggling in trying to manage safety in rural businesses,” he said.
“They are inheritably a risky place to work, so we want to see a balance between profitable workers compensation scheme.
“But we would like to see some of that money go back into rural businesses, particularly to assist us in working with them to reduce the risks in the workplace.”
Mr Galligan says one of the proposed changes would give farmers access to the claim history of job applicants.
“That should be a benefit to employers, particularly in rural business, as many employees travel the country working in agriculture businesses and sometimes we do get caught with people with pre-existing conditions that they don’t make clear when they’re employed,” he said.
“That change will be a positive step for an employer as well.”