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Wednesday, 9 March 1932

Mr HUTCHIN (Denison) .- In supporting the request of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) for the exemption of self-insurers, I ask the Minister to take a note of the points to which I shall direct his attention, so that the interests of self-insurers will be safeguarded, which is, I am sure, the intention of the Government. In certain industrial concerns in, at least two of the States, sickness and accident insurance funds have been built up, on a cooperative basis, by means of subscriptions from employers and employees, and are administered by trustees representing both employers and employees. Very useful work is being accomplished on a nonprofit basis by means of these funds, and in addition to affording monetary relief in the event of sickness or accident, the movement is valuable in promoting good industrial relations between employers and employees. The States to which I refer are Victoria and Tasmania^ In the latter State, another insurance organization has been established to meet the needs of workers who suffer from occupational diseases. Under an act of the Tasmanian Parliament known as the "Workers Occupational Diseases Relief Fund Act, contributions are received from the employers and from the employees, and a further payment is made by the State Government. The result is that a fund has been established from which employees suffering bona fide from occupational diseases are compensated upon a scale that is laid down. It is provided, that, where, in the opinion of the board thai administers the scheme, an individual company is sufficiently stable to look after the matter of insurance on its own account, it shall* be exempted from the general operation of the act. Two large companies in Tasmania operate under that exemption today, with the result that neither the Government nor the employees are called upon to make contributions; the companies themselves carry the whole of the risk. This is an eminently liberal arrangement from the employees' point of view, and it is valuable in promoting good industrial relations. I have no doubt that the Government has no desire that the present bill should prejudicially effect the interests to which I have referred; but I am not satisfied that the definition of " insurance business " makes the position sufficiently clear 'to 'relieve employers and employees from anxiety concerning the effect of the measure on the two types of insurance that I have mentioned. I hope that at a later stage the Minister will make such alterations as may be required to leave no doubt on this point.

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