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Response to Productivity Commission report on workers' compensation and occupational health and safety.



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RESPONSE TO PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION REPORT ON WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AND OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

The Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations today announced the release of the Productivity Commission’s final report from its inquiry into National Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Frameworks and the Government response.

The Australian Government welcomes the Commission’s findings and supports the broad direction of recommendations to work towards nationally consistent workers’ compensation and OHS arrangements. The Australian Government proposes to establish a new tripartite body, the Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC), to develop policy advice on workers’ compensation and OHS programs for the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council. The ASCC will build on the achievements of the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC), whose current work will continue under the new framework.

Given this commitment, the Government does not support the key elements of the Commission’s proposed national framework model. In particular, replacing NOHSC with a smaller expert body; requiring all jurisdictions to adopt uniform OHS regulations; sharing NOHSC’s funding between the Australian Government and States and Territories; developing an alternative national workers’ compensation scheme to operate in parallel with State schemes and establishing, by legislation, a workers’ compensation body to develop nationally consistent standards.

Minister Andrews said that the Government remains committed to the National OHS Strategy and aims to achieve national consistency in both workers’ compensation and OHS.

The Government has deferred responding to recommendations relating to design elements for workers’ compensation schemes and OHS and will seek advice from the ASCC.

The Government’s response is at www.treasurer.gov.au and www.dewr.gov.au. Copies of the report are at Government Info Shops or at the Productivity Commission website at www.pc.gov.au.

CANBERRA 24 June 2004

Contact:

Felicity Dargan 0409 550 446 Office of the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

David Alexander 02 6277 7340 Office of the Treasurer

AUSTRALIAN SAFETY AND COMPENSATION COUNCIL

Function

To provide:

● leadership and coordination for national efforts to prevent workplace death, injury and disease and to improve

workers’ compensation arrangements, and rehabilitation and return to work of injured employees; ● a national forum by which representatives of State and Territory governments, employers and employees

consult and participate in the development of policies relating to OHS and workers’ compensation matters; and ● policy advice to the Australian Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council (WRMC) on national workers’

compensation and occupational health and safety arrangements to deliver nationally consistent regulatory frameworks.

Activities

The Australian Safety and Compensation Council activities will include:

● advising the WRMC on policy initiatives to improve workplace safety, workers’ compensation arrangements and

rehabilitation and return to work of injured employees; ● identifying priority areas for nationally consistent OHS and workers’ compensation arrangements and

recommend policy options to WRMC; ● oversighting implementation and further development of the National OHS Strategy 2002-2012 including:

❍ promotion and dissemination of the National OHS Strategy;

❍ coordination of national efforts to achieve the Strategy’s aims and targets;

❍ review and refinement of the Strategy; and

❍ report on Strategy progress to the WRMC;

● promoting national consistency in the OHS and workers’ compensation regulatory framework including advising

on the development and maintenance of national standards and guidance material, and design principles for workers’ compensation schemes, approved by WRMC; ● oversighting Australia’s OHS and workers’ compensation research to provide information and advice for

determining priorities and best practice approaches to injury and illness prevention and management; ● oversighting the collection of OHS and workers’ compensation data to support effective implementation of the

National OHS Strategy and to compare key performance results of Australian workers’ compensation schemes and OHS performance; ● monitoring key developments across the various programmes and report to WRMC on implementation of its

national consistency programme; and ● promoting best practice in workplace health and safety, and rehabilitation and return to work of injured

employees.

Membership

The core membership of the Council will be:

● independent Chair (1);

● Australian Government member (1);

● representative from each State and Territory (8);

● employer representatives (3); and

● employee representatives (3).

Members will be appointed by the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations after consulting with governments and relevant organisations.

The Chair, with the agreement of the Council, will have the option of coopting additional/replacement members to assist the work of the Council.

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations will provide secretariat services to the Council and be responsible for meeting the cost of member’s participation in the Council.

© Commonwealth of Australia 2000