Under the vehicle of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation
Legislation Amendment Bill 2014, the Commonwealth Government plans
to widen access to the Comcare system for companies doing business
Until the freeze on access to Comcare by the Rudd government in
2007, a number of national corporations had considered
participation in the Comcare scheme to be financially and
The Commonwealth Government's current initiative into this
area is subject to the progress of the current bill and has been
met with strong opposition by unions, the Opposition and the
Australian Lawyers Alliance.
The scheme could have limited impact, in that it applies to
companies operating across State borders who may choose to leave
State workers' compensation schemes and join the Federal
scheme. In reality, the range and demographic of companies that may
be eligible to enter into the current scheme or a modified version
of the scheme is large and inevitably growing.
Many questions arise, but given that companies other than
Commonwealth departments already participate in the scheme, it
seems difficult now to re-energise arguments based on equity for
For the Government, the question is - what is the state of
equilibrium it wishes to achieve? On the one hand, it could be to
allow a handful of large corporate entities the ability to operate
under a centralised system. On the other, it may be to reduce the
scope of State-based workers' compensation schemes coveriing
the local fish and chip shop and the panel beater.
The commercial implications for private insurers are
significant. Based upon the profitability of their current
portfolios and any opportunities that may arise by reason of the
proposal, a view will be expressed in the appropriate forums.
As usual, when confronted with controversial potential
legislative change, it is interesting to examine statements and
explanations from both sides of the debate for any relevant content
amongst the rhetoric and hyperbole.
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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