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Thursday, 14 May 2009
Page: 2844

Senator STEPHENS (Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and Parliamentary Secretary for the Voluntary Sector) (12:45 PM) —In summing up the debate on this bill, I thank those who spoke on this very important bill. The Australian government is committed to supporting Australian workers, committed to getting Australians into jobs, committed to ensuring Australians have safe workplaces and committed to looking after Australian workers if they suffer a workplace injury. We are heartened by the fact that there is a declining number of deaths in Australian workplaces, but of course this is of little comfort to the families of those men and women who perish in workplace accidents.

This bill will deliver increases in the benefits paid to the families of workers who die as a result of their work, and that is central to the government’s support of Australian workers and their families. I would like to particularly acknowledge the interest of Senator Lundy in this bill and the decision which will ensure that the family of the ACT firefighter who was tragically killed while fighting the Victorian bushfires, Mr David Balfour, will receive increased benefits.

In the last budget the government committed to increasing the Comcare lump sum death benefits from the current level of $229,494 to $400,000, and that commitment also increases weekly benefits for dependent children from $72.98 to $110 per child. As I say the government understands that this is of little comfort to families who have lost a loved one as a result of their employment. Nothing can bring those people back; the best we can do as a government and a parliament is to deliver greater financial certainty to those families. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.