This question was asked on 18/06/2014 in the NSW Upper House. You can read the original contribution here.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Fair Trading, representing the Minister for Finance and Services. I note the answer the Minister gave yesterday to a question without notice in which he boasted that “there has been an average [workers compensation] premium reduction of 5 per cent for 200,000 employers … saving more than $113 million”. Will the Minister explain to the thousands of injured workers who have been denied weekly payments, lost medical benefits and suffered from the Government’s 2012 compensation reforms why this money was not spent on restoring their lost benefits?
The Hon. MATTHEW MASON-COX: I thank Mr David Shoebridge for this question. It is a great opportunity for me again to expound on the Government’s wonderful work in this area, and I thank the member for this opportunity. Indeed, as I said yesterday, we are talking about a 5 per cent reduction in workers compensation premiums across New South Wales. What does that do for businesses, for the economy and for the capacity of this Government to deliver the sorts of services and infrastructure that the people of New South Wales want? It goes a long way. It means that every business in New South Wales has 5 per cent less to pay on its workers compensation bill. It means a reduction in their cost base. Indeed, on top of the average 12.5 per cent delivered last year, we are talking about an average 17.5 per cent reduction in their workers compensation cost base. That is what this means. That in itself is a significant boost to the employment prospects of people across New South Wales.
In relation to some of the aspects raised by the member, he would be aware that the Government made a range of changes to the workers compensation system upon coming to office. I again salute the Hon. Greg Pearce for the wonderful work he did in that regard.
The Hon. Greg Pearce: And I salute you back.
The Hon. MATTHEW MASON-COX: We salute each other. We have a mutual saluting society here. The reality is that many people find themselves in a position where their benefits, under the current scheme, have increased. Indeed, I remember when I was Parliamentary Secretary for Treasury and Finance seeing letters from people who were pleased to acknowledge that, for the first time, their benefits had increased and that they were more able to meet the day-to-day costs they faced as a result of injuries that had occurred at work.
I understand that the member has concerns in relation to benefits that were cut for some people, and it is true that some benefits were cut as a result of the scheme being reviewed by this Government. That is a matter of record. In that regard the reality is that people will be work tested under the scheme and will be adjusting to that process. These are difficult times for some people and an adjustment needs to be made. This Government will be assisting them through that process. I certainly make no apologies for what the Government has done in this regard. The reality is that the businesses of New South Wales will prosper under the circumstances we are putting in place and that will continue.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate his answer and confirm that he makes no apologies to those workers who have been denied benefits, including those who have had their foot severed and not been considered sufficiently injured to be eligible for compensation? Is the Minister not apologising to them?
The PRESIDENT: Order! The question is out of order.