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Thursday, 14 October 1971
Page: 2466

Mr Enderby asked the Minister for

Defence, upon notice:

(1)   It is a fact that from time to time employees at the Commonwealth establishment at Pine Gap have received injuries that have arisen out of or in the course of their employment.

(2)   If so, have these injuries given rise to claims for workers' compensation and delays occurred because insurance companies which have to consider these claims have had difficulty in obtaining permission for their claims assessors to enter Pine Gap.

(3)   What procedures have to be followed before an insurance company claims assessor is permitted to enter Pine Gap.

(4)   What is the average period of time that elapses between receipt of a request by an insurance claims assessor to enter Pine Gap and his being given permission to enter.

Mr Fairbairn - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Employees have occasionally been injured during their employment at Pine Gap.

(2)   These injuries have given rise to workers' compensation claims which have been raised and processed. There has been only one occasion when an insurance assessor wished to conduct his interviews on site, in March of this year. On that occasion, witnesses were interviewed by arrangement at the Pine Gap check point. The injured worker was at that time in hospital. A company representative took the insurance assessor to the hospital to interview the injured man and offered to show him in the Facility's town office an item of furniture identical to the one which was claimed to be a factor in the injury. This offer was declined as being neither important nor necessary.

(3)   If an insurance company claims assessor wishes to conduct inquiries at the Facility, he should ask the local management of the firm concerned to obtain permission for the visit. Arrangements will then be made by the Australian Defence Representative for the assessor to have the necessary access to interview witnesses and to make relevant inspections.

(4)   As there has been only the one case which is referred to above, an 'average period of time' would not be particularly meaningful. In normal circumstances, it can be expected that a visit would take place in about an hour after the request was made. If the equipment were in certain parts of the research building to which access could not readily be permitted, it would take a little longer to make the necessary arrangements.

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