It's fair to say that Commonwealth workers' compensation
has largely been in a 'holding pattern' this year. Whilst
national harmonisation of occupational health and safety (OHS) and
workers' compensation has remained very much on the agenda,
there has been a lot of talk but very little action towards
bringing about any significant changes.
In mid December 2007, honouring an election promise, the Federal
Government announced a moratorium on new employers entering the
Comcare scheme. The moratorium was put in place pending review of
the scheme amid concerns about the lowering of OHS standards,
restriction of union rights of entry to workplaces and reduction in
compensation entitlements under the Safety, Rehabilitation and
Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act). The review was initially due
to be completed by March 2008, however this was pushed out to July
2008. An announcement on the outcome of the review has yet to be
made by the Government at the time we went to press, however
indications were that the report would be out before the end of the
Earlier this month, the Government proposed legislation to
increase the death benefit payable under the SRC Act, designed to
bring benefits 'more closely into line with those provided
under state workers' compensation schemes' and to 'make
it fairer for families of employees, particularly for those whose
employers have joined Comcare from state schemes'.
So, it remains to be seen where the Comcare scheme heads in 2009
and how it ties into the ongoing debate about uniformity of OHS and
workers' compensation regulation in Australia.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Treasurer Scott Morrison recently announced changes to a number of 2016 Budget superannuation contribution measures.
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