Resumed from 12 April.
HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [9.15 pm]: I rise as lead speaker for the Greens and indicate that we will support the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Amendment Bill 2017. I will keep my comments fairly brief.
The objectives of the bill are to increase the lump sum payment to dependants; to provide for a simple and equitable method of apportioning the lump sum between those dependants; to increase the weekly child’s allowance for the care and maintenance of each dependent child; to ensure that dependent partners and children have access to the full entitlement irrespective of their level of dependency on the worker at the time of death, which is a very important amendment; to ensure that dependent children can receive both the child’s allowance and a portion of the lump sum; and to facilitate timely access to compensation for dependants with a clear claims procedure, support and guidance and a single pathway for an expedited resolution or claims.
Updated workers’ compensation legislation is way overdue. I note that this bill is a much-needed interim measure while the government undertakes the process of drafting and consulting on a larger workers’ compensation bill; that is not before time. It has been nine years since WorkCover WA began a two-stage review of WA’s workers’ compensation legislation. Stage 1 of the review was completed in 2011 with the passage of amendments to the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981, which I spoke on at that time. The second stage of the review involved recommendations for developing a new workers’ compensation statute. In June 2014—nearly four years ago!—WorkCover WA released a report that laid out 171 recommendations for inclusion in the new statute. The government has announced that a new bill is currently being drafted. I am looking forward to getting a draft of the bill and being able to make comment on it. I hope the government uses that opportunity to make the far-reaching changes that are very much needed.
Needless to say, the sudden and traumatic death of a worker has a profound impact on family and friends and will change the course of many lives. Losing a family member through a workplace fatality adds complexity to the grieving process. It is imperative that we do all we can to reduce their burden as far as possible. I have spoken in this place about the need for industrial manslaughter legislation. A well-functioning workers’ compensation scheme is essential, but we need to ensure that we do everything we can to eliminate workplace fatalities altogether. I hope that will be considered as part of the suite of desperately needed changes.
It is important that this legislation is passed as soon as possible because some families will be immediately affected by these provisions. As such, the Greens support the passage of this legislation.
[Speeches and comments from various members]
Debate adjourned, pursuant to standing orders.