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Thursday, 4 June 1970

Mr BURY (Wentworth) (Treasurer) - by leave - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to increase the monetary benefits provided by the Commonwealth Employees' Compensation Act 1930-69. As honourable members know provisions to increase the monetary benefits were included in the Commonwealth Employees' Compensation Bill 1970 that I introduced on 19th March last. That Bill which dealt with other matters as well as monetary benefits was withdrawn yesterday to make way for this Bill and will be reintroduced at a later time suitably varied to take account of the situation that has emerged. Honourable members will recall that at the conclusion of my second reading speech on the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill 1970 on 19th March I said that the Government's mind was not closed so far as that Bill was concerned and that we stood prepared to consider on their merits suggestions for amendment during its passage. We already have under consideration at this time a number of suggestions from the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations and we also expect to receive suggestions from other sources such as the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Because consideration of the various suggestions will preclude the passage of the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill before the end of the current session, the Government has decided to introduce this rates Bill now with a view to its being passed this session so that payment of compensation at the increased rates already announced can be commenced at an early date.

Under the Bill the basic lump sum benefit is being increased from 810,000 to $12,000 and the minimum payment for a dependent child of a deceased employee from $200 to $280. The minimum payment of $1,650, below which the basic lump sum death benefit may not be reduced if an. employee received a lump sum payment before his death, is increased to $2,000. The Bill provides for the weekly payment in incapacity cases to be increased from $28.15 to $31.80 for an adult employee without dependants and the weekly dependant supplements pf $6.80 and $2.50 for a dependent wife and each dependent child under 16 years of age to be increased to $7.70 and $2.80 respectively. The weekly payment for an employee who is a minor is increased from $21.10 to $23.85. The present maximum lump sum payment for the more serious specified injuries is increased by the Bill from SI 0,000 to $12,000. The benefits for the less serious specified injuries will automatically increase in the same proportion. The maximum amount of compensation that may be paid in respect of any one accident to an employee who is not totally and permanently incapacitated is also increased from $10,000 to $12,000 in line with the increases in the basic lump sum death benefit and the maximum payment for a specified injury. I commend the Bill to the House and express the hope that it will be given a speedy passage.

Debate (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) adjourned.

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