The Newman government will target workers’ compensation in its latest attack on employee rights by axing the ability to make a claim for injuries suffered while travelling to or from work.
Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said any move by the LNP to abolish the right to make a journey claim or introduce a threshold to make it harder for injured workers to make a legitimate claim would have a significant impact on the state’s workforce, particularly fly-in fly-out workers in the resources sector.
He said the Opposition would strongly oppose the move which was particularly petty considering journey claims cost on average just five cents out of the average premium of $1.45.
“This is a major concern for FIFO and also drive-in-drive-out workers who by definition face increased risks of sustaining an injury on their way to or from their place of work,” Mr Pitt said.
“This is a government that is determined to attack workers’ rights and it’s critical that when people are injured at work they receive the support they and their family deserve.
“By now Queenslanders understand that the LNP government will not hesitate to use its massive majority in the Parliament to pursue its anti-worker agenda.
“It will pursue this to satisfy its twisted priorities, putting political interests first and the interests of working Queenslanders a distant last.
“There is simply no reason to make these changes that are proposed.
“The Attorney-General says he is listening to business because they are the ones paying premiums for the scheme. Well it’s about time that the Attorney-General listened to the Parliamentary Committee or otherwise it’ll be ordinary Queenslanders who’ll be paying in the long-run.
“Even the LNP-dominated parliamentary committee that examined our workers’ compensation system essentially agreed to retain the scheme as it stands – including journey claims and access to common law.
“But this not the first time the Attorney-General has shown contempt for the committee system and its independent role and gone against his own LNP colleagues to cosy up to big business.
“After first asking the committee to review the definition of worker he then introduced legislation to change that definition before the committee had even handed down its findings.
“We now know why the government has delayed its official response to the parliamentary committee’s report until after the federal election.”
“The fact that the WorkCover annual report appears to have not yet been released doesn’t help either. Is the government worried it’s going to show that the scheme is in a healthy state and that these changes just aren’t necessary?
“It may also show that some of the previous government’s reforms from 2010 are having a positive effect on what was already a great scheme.
“I have spoken to a number of people – workers, workplace advocates and members of the legal fraternity – who are all greatly concerned about the very real difference these changes would make to lives of working men and women.
“The Labor Opposition will be supporting the campaign that was launched today by the Queensland Council of Unions 100 per cent.”
Mr Pitt said the Premier and the Attorney-General should immediately:
· Rule out removing access to journey claims
· Commit to ensuring a threshold will not be imposed on injured workers
· State categorically that they have not made a commitment to business that they would make these changes, in spite of the independent inquiry.
“I encourage every Queenslander to write, phone or knock on the door of their local LNP member of Parliament and demand they stop playing politics with their rights at work.”