Qld Government plans to strip rights from dying workers
12th May 2022
Changes proposed to Queensland’s workers’ compensation laws dramatically and unnecessarily affect the rights of dying people, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).
The Personal Injuries Proceedings and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, currently being considered by a parliamentary committee, will prevent workers who are diagnosed with a terminal illness caused by their job from accessing a lump sum compensation payment for three years. The Bill proposes that this new restriction is applied retrospectively back to January 2015.
“As the Queensland Council of Unions and many others have made clear, the retrospective stripping of any rights to legal redress is unacceptable,” said Sarah Grace, Qld president, ALA. “This is taking rights away from dying people during the legal process and it is reprehensible.
“The retrospectivity in this Bill needs immediate removal. There is no place for it, nor any compromise which would pass any fairness evaluation.
“Workcover Queensland is a healthy and solvent workers’ compensation scheme. The scheme will not be damaged or threatened by allowing those with claims already lodged to have those claims proceed on the current law.”
The Bill is also designed to prevent claim farming for personal injury and workers’ compensation claims and the ALA fully supports this policy intent.
“We welcome action being taken to prevent any activity that damages the credibility of Queensland’s compensation schemes, however, this Bill is flawed,” said Ms Grace. “It contains onerous and unworkable new requirements to provide numerous Law Practice Certificates throughout claims.
“The administrative burden on practitioners is unnecessary to achieve the purpose of the Bill. Those administrative burdens add to costs and will be an impediment to access to justice for people who are already dealing with the trauma and pain of an injury or illness.”
The ALA’s submission proposes a solution to simplify the legislation to require the giving of the Law Practice Certificate when a damages claim is commenced, or when a lump sum offer is accepted by a claimant who has retained a lawyer, or if the claimant has already commenced a damages claim when they retain a lawyer, within one month of retaining the lawyer.