WorkCover’s in great shape

The Australian Lawyers Alliance has put out a media release in response to the WorkCover Queensland Annual Report, which the Queensland Government tabled just before close of business today. The release quotes my colleague, ALA Queensland President Michelle James, as follows:


The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has welcomed the release of WorkCover Queensland’s latest Annual Report, which confirms the scheme remains the best in the country and is both financially stable and fair for employers, employees and taxpayers.

ALA Queensland President Michelle James said today’s report showcased WorkCover’s performance and stability, with an increased profit, healthy balance sheet, stable claim numbers, and less money spent on common law payouts.

“Today’s Annual Report is a stunning endorsement of the fund. It’s more good news for employers, employees and taxpayers,” she said.

“As we’ve repeatedly stated, the report confirms Queensland has the best scheme in the country, and one that’s in excellent financial health,” Ms James said.

“We congratulate the Government on maintaining and improving the nation’s stand-out scheme.

“The report shows that this is a scheme worth fighting for: Queensland’s current laws deliver great financial results, as well as protection for working people. And for employers, our existing laws deliver premiums that are amongst the cheapest in the country.

“Importantly the report shows why Queensland’s work injuries laws deliver nation-leading outcomes. It’s strong evidence that WorkCover shouldn’t change.

“Common law claim numbers are stable and the costs of these claims are well below what was expected.

“The average common law payout was almost 15% less than WorkCover’s target amount. And the total cost of common law claims was down more than $50 million compared with the previous year.

“Premiums have again been confirmed as the second lowest in the country.

“The report shows WorkCover has an annual profit of over $500 million. That also confirms what we have said repeatedly – that there is ample room for the Government to adjust employer premiums without having to jeopardise people’s legal rights unnecessarily.

“This report puts to bed the misleading statements from some business lobby groups that small and undeserving claims are going through the roof. The facts in the Annual Report speak for themselves.

“The report confirms the findings of the Government’s own Parliamentary Committee – who earlier this year strongly endorsed the scheme in its current form after going through numerous submissions and holding a lengthy, statewide review.

“It also supports polling last week which showed that 83% of Queenslanders support the current scheme.

“If the Government needed any further evidence that the Scheme was not broken and doesn’t need fixing then this is it – it is time for a guarantee that the Government will accept the recommendations of its own Parliamentary Committee and secure the future of our nation-leading scheme,” she said.




It’s equal pay day tomorrow

It’s equal pay day tomorrow.

Since Australian women have to work around 64 days more than their male counterparts to earn the same money, equal pay day is on 3rd September this year.

Security4women has a campaign on this issue. No doubt it will get lost in the election noise. But pay equity remains an issue in Australia. I hope that whoever wins the election, they keep the new workplace gender equality reporting arrangements that are due to take full effect next year.

New federal discrimination protections started today

In June, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Commonwealth) was amended to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of:

The laws also update the ground of ‘marital status’ to ‘relationship status’.

The changes followed the federal government having to abandon its proposed federal discrimination law consolidation earlier in the year because it was not going to attract sufficient support in the parliament. I welcomed the consolidated legislation at the time, as it would have been an improvement on the current patchwork of federal discrimination statutes, and would have introduced important protections. Though I’m disappointed that the consolidated legislation didn’t make it through, I am very pleased that our nation’s parliament has seen fit to prohibit discrimination against LGBTI people.

The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013 can be found on Comlaw.