MICHAEL SLATTERY QC, president of the NSW Bar Association, has attacked Special Minister of State John Della Bosca over his plans to reform the workers’ compensation system, labelling it “a token response”.
Slattery went on to describe the reforms as “an insult to the 95 per cent of injured workers who cannot access compensation for their pain and suffering”.
The profitability of the Workers Compensation and Motor Accidents Schemes meant the harsh and arbitrary thresholds that determine whether a person’s injury is severe enough to warrant compensation should be relaxed, he said.
“The Government is saving around $1 billion per year by denying benefits to injured workers. The release of this new data proves there is enough surplus in the scheme to provide proper compensation to the 95 per cent of injured people who have been excluded since the changes were made to the system,” Slattery said.
“Harsh tests were imposed making it impossible for workers injured through no fault of their own to meet arbitrary requirements.
“Under the current system a worker’s injuries need to meet the 15 per cent person impairment threshold before they can qualify for any compensation. This brutal assessment basically means a worker has to be catastrophically injured before they are entitled to any payment for their injuries,” he said.
Law Society junior vice-president Hugh Macken said that the profitability of the Workers Compensation Scheme showed the time was ripe to restore equity and fairness to the system.
“We need to change the law in New South Wales to ensure people injured at work or in motor vehicle accidents are fairly compensated and that proper compensation is paid out based on the severity of the injury and not on the circumstance where the injury occurred,” Macken said.
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