Comcare OK for workers but not good enough for politicians
13th May 2015
The Federal Government has admitted the Comcare scheme is not up to scratch by quietly funding its own parliamentary injury compensation scheme in last night’s Budget, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.
The new MP injury compensation scheme, funded to the tune of $1.4 million over four years, “will provide a senator or member with an entitlement to compensation in respect of an injury that arises out of, or in the course of the performance of, his or her duties as a parliamentarian,” according to Budget papers.
ALA National President Andrew Stone said that the new scheme exposed the hypocrisy of the government’s position on Comcare, with legislation recently introduced to strip rights and entitlements from workers under the scheme.
“While the government is trying to tear the heart out of the Comcare scheme as a ‘cost-saving measure’, it is simultaneously launching its own gold-plated parliamentary injury compensation scheme,” Mr Stone said.
“There is no need or reason for an expensive new injury compensation scheme to be introduced solely for politicians. As public servants, parliamentary members and senators should be covered under the existing Comcare scheme.”
“While Senator Abetz wants to strip rights and entitlements from people covered under the Comcare scheme, this new announcement is his admission that Comcare as it stands simply isn’t good enough for him or his 225 parliamentary colleagues,” Mr Stone said.
“If Comcare isn’t good enough for Senator Abetz, then why is he trying to make it even worse for Australian workers?”
“There are thousands of Australian workers who stand to lose the protection of their well-funded and well-administered state-based workers compensation schemes if the government’s legislation forces them into Comcare’s poorly-functioning regulatory arrangements,” Mr Stone said.
“Senator Abetz wants to open up Comcare to all and sundry, as long as that doesn’t include him. Australian workers lose out, while politicians get a new gold-plated injury compensation scheme.”
Mr Stone said the Budget announcement gave little detail as to how the parliamentary injury compensation scheme would operate or what sort of injuries it would cover. According to the office of the Special Minister of State, federal politicians are not currently covered under the Comcare scheme.
“We’ve consistently said that Comcare has a patchy record on workplace safety enforcement and oversight,” Mr Stone said.
“Now by dodging Comcare and opening up its own compensation scheme, the government has shown that it agrees that Comcare just isn’t good enough.”
“The government has shown it doesn’t want to be subject to the terrible new Comcare regime it is creating - we hope that it acknowledges that Australian workers deserve better by withdrawing its new Comcare legislation,” Mr Stone said.