The release of a 200+ page discussion paper on the proposed
legislative review has started a process that has been anticipated
for some time. Although it is the avowed intention of the
Government not to attempt to change the substantial content of the
Act, but rather to re-organise and re-write it in a more modern,
manageable and relevant style, there will be enough
"substantive" changes to keep all stakeholders on their
toes for some time.
Amongst others, the discussion paper identifies the following
feature/areas of the Act for review:
The definition of "worker"
Coverage of directors of public companies
Minor claims procedures
Calculation of weekly payments
Review of weekly payments and liability under ss60 and 62,
Increasing compliance with injury management
Regulation of AMSs
Policy extension and indemnity obligations
Discontinuation of the "termination day" for the
purpose of common law claims
Even a "mere" re-organisation or re-write without
extensive changes going to the heart of the current system, is a
very large undertaking, and it would be ambitious to expect a Bill
to see the light of day anytime this side of 2015.
Those practicing in the area who have already seen one or two
legislative reviews will probably take a sanguine view, but also
perhaps recall the words of Justice Stephen of the High Court, who
in delivering his reasons for decision in May v Geraldton
Building Company in 1977, famously commented "...the
accumulated scar tissue of sixty-five years of frequent amendment,
aggravated rather than aided by the cosmetic device of successive
reprints, makes unrewarding the search for any underlying pattern
likely to reveal legislative intent...."
Stakeholders, however, have been given a far more generous
opportunity to consider that legislative intent and to make
submissions on the review proposals than has occurred on the many
occasions on which scar revision has previously been attempted.
Those submissions should be made to the Policy Manager and
Legislative Services at WorkCover by 7 February 2014.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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