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Compensation fight looms

FEDERAL Government plans to set up single national insurance schemes in workers’ compensation, compulsory third party and builders’ warranty insurance are likely to meet stiff resistance from WA.

Financial Services and Regulation Minister Joe Hockey announced the proposed scheme as an answer to the collapse of insurer HIH.

HIH was a major supplier of such insurance types Australia wide.

WA businesses will have a 5 per cent levy foisted onto their workers’ compensation insurance premiums from July 1 to meet shortfalls created by the HIH collapse.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry director operations Brendan McCarthy said WA businesses would vehemently oppose any Federal Government attempt to take workers’ compensation control away from the states.

“Workers’ compensation is an area that requires close management, and management close to the workplace,” Mr McCarthy said.

“New South Wales Premier Bob Carr is an advocate of Canberra taking over. His workers’ compensation system – which is conducted by his government, not the private insurance sector – is in crisis and nearly $3 billion in debt.

“Handing it over to Canberra would lead to employers in other states such as WA eventually sharing the NSW liability.”

WA Consumer Affairs Minister John Kobelke said the Federal Government’s proposal showed a lack of understanding of the problem created by HIH’s demise.

“Setting up a national workers’ compensation scheme could take years,” Mr Kobelke said.

He said other problems with a national scheme included the compromises needed, given the difference in systems operated by different states and varying levels of debt between schemes.

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