On Friday 21 March, a Parliamentary hearing began into recent workers compensation reforms heard victims, lawyers, politicians and doctors saying the new scheme unfairly favours insurance companies, who are using new guidelines to cut costs. Some Workcover NSW managers/reps were put through their paces indeed and we do wonder whether the resignation of 2 senior workcover NSW managers, Julie Newman (CEO Return to Work and Support Division) and John Watson (general manager of the work health and safety division) is really a coincidence…
Two senior WorkCover NSW managers to retire
Workplace Editor – SMH
March 24 2014
Two of the most senior managers at WorkCover NSW have announced their retirement.
Julie Newman, chief executive officer of the Return to Work and Support Division will retire on August 1 and John Watson (pictured above), general manager of the work health and safety division, will do the same on July 3.
A spokeswoman for WorkCover said they had made “an individual personal decision to retire this year after successful careers”. Each has worked in the public service for more than 30 years.
WorkCover NSW has undergone major structural change, most recently under the O’Farrell government which warned that without reform, the authority was heading towards a $4.5 billion deficit.
The government introduced controversial reforms in June 2012 which included slashing benefits to injured workers and abolishing journey claims.
The changes benefited business who would have otherwise faced premium increases of 28 per cent, according to government estimates.
In 2012, former finance minister, Greg Pearce, said the NSW workers’ compensation scheme has a long history of deficit, having spent only two and a half of the past 16 years in surplus.
Greens MP and spokesman for Industrial Relations David Shoebridge said the organisation has faced significant internal problems.
“Many people will now be looking very closely at the O’Farrell government’s next appointment to head WorkCover to see if the government is serious about the interests of working people over and above the interests of corporate profit,” Mr Shoebridge said
“This is an organisation that has seen constant structural change for well over a decade and that has led to serious shortcomings in its oversight of safety and its handling of the workers compensation system.
“Whether it is seriously coming to grips with allegations of internal bullying or humanising the workers compensation system, it will demand political as well as organisational leadership to deliver change.”
A spokeswoman for WorkCover said that Ms Newman joined the organisation as chief financial officer in 2008 and won the Public Service Medal in 2012. Mr Watson won the medal in 2007.
“Julie had a distinguished career in the public sector that spans more than 40 years,” the spokeswoman said.
“John has worked in the public sector for more than 30 years commencing at the Department of Industrial Relations as an inspector and later managing the inspectorate when the department became WorkCover NSW.”
Ms Newman and Mr Watson declined to comment. (Of course…!)