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Friday, 3 April 1987
Page: 1825


Senator COONEY —I direct my question to the Minister for Finance. I ask him this question in the context of the release this morning in the Press of news of the Government's reform of the workers compensation Act as it applies to Commonwealth employees. I ask him whether under the reform common law is to be abolished absolutely. If so, what provisions are to be put in its place? Are there any provisions to prevent accidents happening in the work place to be enacted and are there any provisions to enable rehabilitation to take place under the new scheme?


Senator WALSH —In response to the last part of the question, the legislation has not yet been drafted, so I cannot give a precise answer. It is the Government's general policy to both minimise accidents or work-caused disability and maximise the rehabilitation of people who may be so affected. In respect of the first part of the question, the policy is to remove from common law jurisdiction-to legislate to override common law, I suppose-the so-called pain and suffering provision of common law actions. I think that is absolutely essential, firstly, because pain and suffering is very difficult to determine, obviously, and secondly, it becomes a particular problem when we have both a medical profession and a judiciary in Australia so prone to make capricious and irrational judgments, as they do.