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Libs to support workers comp changes - with a catch

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The State Government’s proposed Return To Work changes look certain to pass parliament with the Liberal Opposition opting to back the compromise Bill – subject to an independent audit.

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A compromise brokered by Premier Peter Malinauskas last week saw off a union revolt over the proposed changes, which would have closed a claimed loophole that allowed injured workers to be compensated for cumulative injuries – as highlighted in a landmark court decision in the case of injured truck driver Shane Summerfield.

But a deal backed by unions and business groups saw a revised Bill allow workers to be compensated for cumulative injuries but increase the seriously injured worker threshold from 30 per cent to 35 per cent, safeguarding against significant increases in premiums for employers.

The Liberal Opposition met last night and opted to back the new Bill, “as long as the State Government can provide independent assurance around the impacts of the proposed changes to the scheme”.

In a statement, Opposition Leader David Speirs said the Liberal Party had agreed to support the Bill “as long as an actuarial opinion and an independent peer review are provided by the Government”.

“The Malinauskas Labor Government has turned this whole process into a shambles by doing policy on the run,” he said.

“The first Bill had months of independent work behind it, whereas the new Bill was put together over a weekend after Peter Malinauskas succumbed to the unions.

“Peter Malinauskas should have done this work before introducing a Bill into Parliament and then fearmongering amongst the community.

“The only thing left is for Labor to prove the numbers stack up and we will support the passage of this Bill which will provide certainty to the business community, workers, as well as the Return to Work Board.”

He said the Opposition would consider any amendments put forward during debate in the Legislative Council, where Labor needs just two crossbench votes to pass any given Bill.

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