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Wait and see for business

TWO Government documents have been released that threaten to have major ramifications for business.

The WA Government has released for public comment the long-awaited Guthrie Report recommendations for implementing its direction statement on the workers’ compensation system, and Federal Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton has handed down the privacy guidelines.

These guidelines indicate how Mr Crompton will be interpreting the 10 national privacy principles that are at the heart of the privacy laws to take effect from December 21.

However, while the guidelines have been finalised, they are yet to be tested in a court of law.

Back in WA, business is likely to be unimpressed with the Guthrie Report.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes that if the Government implemented the recommendations in the report it would send workers’ compensation premiums “back into orbit”.

CCI director operations Brendan McCarthy said he thought business had gone through the worst of the workers’ compensation insurance pain.

“This report, if implemented, will take us back to where we were, and worse,” he said.

“And with the fragile state of the insurance industry, now is not the time to start taking risks with anything insurance related.”

Workers’ compensation insurance premiums for most industries peaked in 1997 before the (then) WA Government moved to restrict access to common law claims.

With the so-called “second gateway” closed, insurance premiums started coming back down.

The insurance industry has taken a number of heavy knocks, most notably with the terrorist attacks on the US.

However, Mr McCarthy said the Government had promised it would not make any changes to workers’ compensation law that would result in increased insurance premiums.

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