COMPARISON OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION ARRANGEMENTS
National Competition Policy Legislative Review
On 18 July 2001, the Queensland government announced the outcomes of the National Competition Policy Legislative
Review of the WorkCover Queensland Amendment Act 1996.
The results found that WorkCover Queensland should remain in public hands. The extensive consultation,
undertaken as part of the review process, revealed a majority of stakeholders were satisfied with the scheme's
operation, especially the stability and strong performance of the current arrangements.
It was recommended that WorkCover Queensland's regulatory arm, Q COMP, be separated from the commercial
operations, formalise independence in the regulation and administration of the scheme. Preparation for this
separation is underway.
The last legislative changes were via the WorkCover Queensland Amendment Act 2001. This Act and the explanatory
notes can be viewed at www.qcomp.com.au, via the `Business Services' then `Legislation' buttons.
Acts of terrorism
Following the announcement by the international reinsurance market (which backs insurance companies against
large losses) of its intention to withdraw cover for acts of terrorism, the insurance industry excluded cover for
liability arising from acts of terrorism from all insurance policies. This had potential consequences for employers
and insurers within the scheme, as the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 1981 requires all employers to
be insured for their full liability to pay compensation.
The Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation (Acts of Terrorism) Act 2001, assented to on 31 December 2001,
enables the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Commission to permit insurers to exclude liability for acts of
terrorism from their liability to insure employers, provided the insurer enters into a written agreement with the
Commission. Self insurers are required to enter into a similar agreement. The agreements provide that in the event
an act of terrorism results in claims made by employers, insurers and self insurers must collectively contribute up to
$25 million, which will be the limit on benefits payable in the event of an act of terrorism. As at 30 June 2002, all
approved insurers and self insurers had entered into an agreement with the Commission.
This Act aims to ensure employers are able to fulfil their legislative obligations, and that funds are available to cover
the cost of claims for workers injured as a result of an act of terrorism. It was designed as an interim measure,
required from 1 January 2002, until such time as the enactment of Federal legislation that provides a national fund to
cover acts of terrorism.
Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions (Asbestos Diseases)) Amendment Act 2002
The Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions (Asbestos Diseases)) Amendment Act 2002 was assented to on 20 March
2002. The Act provides for the survival of damages actions for the benefit of the estate of a deceased person where
the death is attributable to the inhalation of asbestos. Damages include pain and suffering; any bodily harm or
mental harm; and the curtailment of expectation of life.
Review of the Western Australian workers' compensation system
In May 2001, the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Commission seconded Mr Robert Guthrie to provide
advice to the government of the implementation of the Labor Party's Pre election Direction Statement and the
previous reviews into insurance arrangements and medical and associated costs. The Report on the Implementation
of the Labor Party Direction Statement in Relation to Workers' Compensation was released 31 July 2001 and public
comment sought by Government. A position paper was released by the Government in October 2002 that outlined a
number of reform proposals. Further consultation with key stakeholders regarding technical issues will occur prior
to the introduction of a reform package to Parliament.
Heads of Workers' Compensation Authorities 47