The release of a 200+ page discussion paper on the proposed legislative review has started a process that has been anticipated for some time. Although it is the avowed intention of the Government not to attempt to change the substantial content of the Act, but rather to re-organise and re-write it in a more modern, manageable and relevant style, there will be enough “substantive” changes to keep all stakeholders on their toes for some time.
Amongst others, the discussion paper identifies the following feature/areas of the Act for review:
- The definition of “worker”
- Coverage of directors of public companies
- Minor claims procedures
- Calculation of weekly payments
- Review of weekly payments and liability under ss60 and 62,
- Claims settlement
- Increasing compliance with injury management
- Regulation of AMSs
- Policy extension and indemnity obligations
- Discontinuation of the “termination day” for the purpose of common law claims
Even a “mere” re-organisation or re-write without extensive changes going to the heart of the current system, is a very large undertaking, and it would be ambitious to expect a Bill to see the light of day anytime this side of 2015.
Those practicing in the area who have already seen one or two legislative reviews will probably take a sanguine view, but also perhaps recall the words of Justice Stephen of the High Court, who in delivering his reasons for decision in May v Geraldton Building Company in 1977, famously commented “…the accumulated scar tissue of sixty-five years of frequent amendment, aggravated rather than aided by the cosmetic device of successive reprints, makes unrewarding the search for any underlying pattern likely to reveal legislative intent….”
Stakeholders, however, have been given a far more generous opportunity to consider that legislative intent and to make submissions on the review proposals than has occurred on the many occasions on which scar revision has previously been attempted. Those submissions should be made to the Policy Manager and Legislative Services at WorkCover by 7 February 2014.
For more information on this article or any other insurance issues please contact Vidal Hockless on (08) 9321 3755.
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