Queensland Law Society

Significant changes to Qld workers’ compensation scheme announced today

This morning the Attorney-General announced that the government would introduce a 5% impairment threshold for access to common law workers’ compensation claims. Before lunch he introduced urgent legislation to implement those reforms. By the end of the week the legislation will be passed.

We do not understand why this is an urgent issue. It is contrary to the strong recommendation of the Parliamentary Inquiry in May this year.

WorkCover is in robust financial health.

WorkCover’s 2012-13 annual report, tabled yesterday after Cabinet decided on the changes, showed a profit of just over half a billion dollars.

We have voiced our opposition to the introduction of a threshold since the review of the scheme commenced in 2012 and are deeply disappointed at the government’s decision.

Until now, Queensland had the best and most profitable workers’ compensation scheme in Australia. This is now under significant threat.

Our scheme has led the nation in a number of ways including our 98% general return to work rate, 3.1% disputation rate and the second lowest average premium in Australia. 

The government’s reforms deprive injured Queenslanders of basic rights of review and appeal.

The new scheme will apply for injuries from today.

We are reviewing the draft Bill and will advise members as soon as possible on practice implications, as we realise this will impact significantly on advice to clients.

We have been extremely active on this issue over the past 12 months, and particularly in recent weeks. 

Details of our activity, including our submissions and media releases, are available here

More information will be uploaded soon.

If you are concerned about this issue, we suggest asking your local MP why they are supporting these fundamental changes to the current scheme and why the changes were so urgent that normal parliamentary process was not followed.