Drop in premiums shows Qld govt's WorkCover changes were unnecessary
20th May 2014
Today’s announcement of a drop in WorkCover premiums for employers proves the Newman Government’s changes to the workers’ compensation scheme, rammed through Parliament last year, were unnecessary, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.
ALA Queensland President, Michelle James, said the Newman Government had tried to claim credit for the decrease in premiums, when, in reality, reductions were always possible without the Government having to slash the rights of employees.
“Today’s announcement is exactly what concerned groups like the ALA had long attempted to explain to the Newman Government, which their own committee accepted but which the Government chose to ignore,” Ms James said.
“It was repeatedly stated that not only was Queensland’s WorkCover scheme the best in Australia, but also that a reduction in premiums was possible without changes having to be rammed through, due to improvements already underway since 2010 within WorkCover.
“The Government have today fancifully sought to claim this drop in premiums as attributable to the changes they introduced; despite the fact that it’s well known any financial impacts of their changes are yet to come through.
"WorkCover’s own figures have always made clear the scheme was in excellent health with low premiums as a result of the 2010 amendments, and that this would continue without having to make any major changes to the scheme.
“WorkCover’s latest Annual Report, released late last year, showed the average common law payout was almost 15% less than WorkCover’s target amount, and that the total cost of common law claims was down more than $50 million compared with the previous year.
“The report also found WorkCover has an annual profit of over $500 million, which again confirms what we said at the time – that there was ample room for the Government to adjust employer premiums without having to jeopardise people’s legal rights unnecessarily.
“Recent stakeholder actuarial briefings from the regulator also clearly show that the reduction in rights for employees has yet to impact the financial outcomes of the scheme.
“As we have always said: that this was an excellent scheme for both employers and employees that did not need to be changed.
“The Government ignored these concerns as well as the findings of its own Parliamentary Committee by announcing a raft of measures that serve only to disadvantage Queenslanders injured in unsafe workplaces.
“It is time for the Government to be upfront with Queenslanders - the only outcome their changes to WorkCover are achieving is to further hurt people doing it tough who have been injured at work. It is now time to reverse the changes made in October 2013, because they are unfair and economically unwarranted,” she said.