On 15 July 2015, a Bill to amend the Workers'
Compensation & Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) was
introduced into Parliament. The Bill implements a number of
policy proposals by the current Queensland Government in its
pre-election policy document Restoring the Rights of
Queenslanders Injured at Work.
The Bill has since been referred to the Parliamentary Finance
& Administration Committee and if passed, will make a number of
changes to Queensland's workers' compensation scheme, the
most significant of which comprise:
removal of the current limitation on the entitlement to seek
damages that requires a worker to have a degree of permanent
impairment as a result of the injury greater than 5% to access
common law from the date of the Queensland State election
(31 January 2015);
establishing the ability to provide additional compensation to
particular workers impacted by the operation of the common law
threshold, between 15 October 2013 and 31 January
the introduction of provisions for fire fighters diagnosed with
one of 12 specified diseases that will deem their injury to be
work-related if they meet the required qualifying period of active
fire fighting service;
the removal of the prospective employer's right to obtain a
copy of a prospective worker's compensation claims history from
the Workers' Compensation Regulator; and
clarification of certain procedural aspects of the claims
process and reduction of the regulatory burden through a number of
minor miscellaneous amendments.
Whilst the removal of the 5% threshold for access to common law
is likely to result in a substantial increase in the number of
damages claims brought in Queensland by injured workers against
their employers, the Bill's Explanatory Notes state that this
legislative amendment will be achieved without an increase in the
average premium rate of $1.20 per $100.00 wages paid by
employers. According to the Bill's Explanatory Notes,
once these legislative changes have been introduced, WorkCover
Queensland will remain fully solvent as, whilst its substantial
reserves are reduced, the solvency target of 120% will be
maintained. This target is above the level of solvency
required in any other centrally funded workers' compensation
scheme in Australia.
It is essential employers understand the implications of the
proposed amendments to Queensland's workers' compensation
scheme, to be in the best position to defend workers'
Whilst significant changes to the scheme have been proposed,
other aspects of the Act remain unchanged, such as the definitions
of "worker" and "injury", as well as the
provisions in relation to journey claims. From an
employer's perspective, the most immediate impact the proposed
changes, if passed, will have on their day to day operations, is
that they will no longer be able to obtain a copy of a prospective
worker's claims history summary as part of their recruitment
The failure of a party to call a witness does not necessarily give rise to an adverse inference being drawn in accordance with Jones v Dunkel (1959) 101 CLR 298. An unfavourable inference is drawn only if evidence otherwise provides a basis on which that unfavourable inference can be drawn.
This article examines common coverage issues and considerations for granting indemnity for criminal fines and penalties.
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