A recent investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners regarding the workers compensation scheme in New South Wales and Victoria revealed some significant concerns regarding the financial health of both schemes and the anti-worker conduct by one particular insurer.
In Queensland, our workers compensation system is a vision of financial health when compared with New South Wales and Victoria.
In addition to being profitable, generally well managed and run by WorkCover Queensland, injured workers in Queensland retain access to common law which has been significantly limited in New South Wales and Victoria.
Access to common law damages can be extremely important if an injured worker has been left with a significant impairment or disability and their ability to work in the future has been damaged or reduced or destroyed.
In New South Wales and Victoria, there are major restrictions or thresholds which limit the rights of injured workers to seek damages or compensation in a common law claim. No such restrictions or threshold exist in Queensland and it is very important that this does not change.
When Campbell Newman was elected Premier of Queensland, his LNP Government introduced a 5% whole person impairment threshold which restricted injured workers’ access or rights to pursue a common law claim. Jarrod Bleijie was the Attorney-General responsible for conferring with stakeholders who introduced the unwanted, unnecessary and controversial changes to the law.
Fortunately, the Campbell Newman LNP Government was a short lived but still painful experience for injured workers who needed to wait three long years for the 5% whole person impairment threshold to be abolished which is one of the first things that Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ALP Government did when she unexpectedly defeated Campbell Newman.
Unfortunately, many Queenslanders were left without a common law remedy or access due to the legislative changes introduced by Campbell Newman’s LNP Government and we saw this first-hand. Injured workers who had been left with a permanent disability who were unable to work were not able to seek proper compensation or damages for their pain and suffering, lost wages and future lost wages, lost superannuation, retraining costs and future medical treatment.
Fortunately, since 2013 injured workers in Queensland have had their rights restored and they have access to the common law if they have been injured through a negligent system of work and they can seek proper compensation or damages for their injuries.
It is very important that the healthy, profitable and sustainable workers compensation scheme in Queensland remains unchanged or untouched by any legislative reform in the future because there is simply no reason or justification for it.
This blog was written by Greg Black, Director
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