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Friday, 17 December 1993
Page: 4993


Senator PATTERSON (3.38 p.m.) —I move:

(1)Clause 69, page 90, omit the clause, substitute the following clause:

Compensation recovery definitions

"69. Section 17 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting `male employees' from paragraph (a) of the definition of `average weekly earnings' in subsection (1) and substituting `employees (all persons)'; ".

I express the coalition's concern that this provision will discriminate against people where it is manifest they have not suffered an economic loss as a result of a compensable incident. I outlined our concerns in detail in the second reading debate.

  The government's provision seeks to deem that 50 per cent of all lump sum compensation payments are for economic loss, regardless of the circumstances, incident or person involved. The coalition recognises that there is a need to prevent cost shifting to the social security system. We understand that there are cases where the economic loss component is minimised to reduce the social security preclusion period. While we do not condone such action, it is imperative that the government comes up with a system that does not at the same time inadvertently penalise people where it is manifest that no economic loss has occurred.

  An example would be a long-term disability support pensioner who receives a lump sum payment as a result of a compensable incident. He or she has not suffered an economic loss, yet the government's provisions deem that 50 per cent of the lump sum payment is for economic loss.

  The coalition asked the government to come up with amendments to overcome this problem, but it has failed to do so. The only amendment that it has come up with is an exemption for lump sum payments under $10,000. Not only is this an arbitrary cut-off point; it also does not specifically overcome the problems that we have highlighted.