The Rudd Government has placed a moratorium on new applications from private sector corporations wanting to move to the Comcare workers’ compensation scheme. The moratorium on new applications will apply immediately.
As announced before the election, the moratorium was necessary to enable the Government to examine whether the Comcare scheme provides workers with access to appropriate workplace safety and compensation arrangements.
The previous Liberal government broadened the Comcare scheme, causing significant concern about occupational health and safety coverage for workers, particularly contractors.
Questions have also been asked about the protections available to workers in the Comcare scheme compared with those available under state and territory law.
The previous Liberal government failed to work cooperatively with the states and territories to achieve consistent workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety laws.
The moratorium will allow the Rudd Government to work with the state and territory governments to resolve those issues in consultation with employees and employers.
Companies that have already been declared eligible to apply for a self-insurance licence by the previous Liberal government will not be affected by the moratorium.
Companies have invested considerable time and cost into preparing their applications.
The scheme regulator, the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, is obliged to consider these licence applications on their merits.
The Rudd Labor Government is committed to the harmonisation of key regulations imposed on businesses operating across jurisdictions, including occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation arrangements.
However, appropriate standards must be maintained and the review of the Comcare scheme will be undertaken in this context.
The review of the Comcare scheme will be completed by the end of March 2008.