Bills Digest no. 67 2009–10
Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment Bill
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introduced: 21 October
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Education, Employment and Workplace
to the Bill, Explanatory Memorandum and second
reading speech can be accessed via BillsNet, which is at http://www.aph.gov.au/bills/.
When Bills have been passed they can be found at ComLaw, which is
To provide the Minister for
Education, Employment and Workplace Relations with the absolute
discretion to consider requests for declarations of eligibility for
a licence under the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act
1988 (the SRC Act).
The SRC Act is the
legislative basis for the Commonwealth workers compensation scheme.
It establishes and regulates the scheme for compensating and
rehabilitating Commonwealth workers who are injured either out of
or in the course of their employment. It also covers private corporations
that are licensed to self-insure their worker s compensation
liabilities under the Comcare scheme.
In 1992, the SRC Act
was amended to enable privatised Commonwealth government business
enterprises to remain under the scheme. Corporations competing in
the market place with formerly Commonwealth owned businesses were
also able to apply to join the scheme as self insurers.
The Howard government
extended the eligibility to apply to be a self-insurer under the
scheme, making it possible for Optus to be eligible to apply for a
self-insurance licence. This opened the gate for a number of
corporations with no historical connection to the Commonwealth to
apply to be granted self-insurance licences.
In the past year and a half, there has been a sizable increase
in the number of employees covered by the Comcare scheme (410 000)
with the current number of licensees under the scheme having
reached 29. The expansion of responsibility in the number and range
of industries covered by the scheme has raised certain concerns and
a desire that all employees are sufficiently protected by robust
occupational health and safety safeguards and appropriate worker s compensation
On 11 December 2007, Julia Gillard, Minister for Education,
Employment and Workplace Relations, announced a review of the
Comcare scheme and a moratorium on granting further self-insurance
declarations (of eligibility to apply for a self-insurance licence
under the Comcare scheme). Issues of particular interest under the review are:
the appropriateness of OHS and workers
compensation coverage under the Comcare scheme for workers employed
whether the current arrangements for
self-insurers pose any risk to the Commonwealth or to state and
why corporations seek to join the scheme;
whether there should be changes to the
eligibility rules for obtaining a licence to self-insure.
According to the Explanatory Memorandum,
the amendment will be of no financial cost to the Commonwealth
Item 2 amends section 100 of the SRC Act
providing that the Minister is empowered but not required to
consider a request for a declaration of eligibility to be granted a
licence for self-insurance under the Comcare scheme.
This amendment would continue the aforementioned moratorium
announced in December 2007 until 2011, by which time it is expected
that the new uniform occupational health and safety laws will be
implemented in all states and territories.
The Senate Scrutiny of Bills Committee made the following
comments about item 2:
The Committee considers that the Minister s
absolute discretion in these circumstances may be an inappropriate
delegation of legislative power. However, since the bill appears to
be seeking to formalise in legislation what is a clear policy
decision, the Committee leaves to the Senate as a
whole any further consideration of this issue.
Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain further
information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 6277 2404.
23 November 2009
Bills Digest Service
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