THE spartan clues given by Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke about possible changes to workers’ compensation in Western Australia indicate the proposals are still a long way from being a beneficial and acceptable package.
He continues to advocate the kind of changes that led the Government’s own actuaries to say the changes would add $100 million a year to claims costs, not including administration costs – enough to send the system back into the crisis it was in during the late 1990s.
For example, quadrupling the period from six months to two years within which a worker can elect to lodge a common law claim would invariably lead to a blow-out in costs by allowing claimants to pursue drawn-out legal strategies while continuing to receive statutory benefits.
Prior to the six-month election rule introduced in 1999, the scope available to claimants to access both the statutory and common law systems simultaneously was one of the major reasons for the hike in employers’ premiums and the near-collapse of the WA system.
The Minister is pandering to union demands in wanting to support changes that would increase statutory benefits and free up common law.
– Anne Bellamy
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