Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt, says LNP MPs in the Far North should explain their role as a cheer squad for the Newman Government’s moves to make life harder for people injured at work.
“Voters need to know that all three of the MPs – Michael Trout, Gavin King, and David Kempton – actively supported the unfair and unnecessary changes to the state’s worker’s compensation scheme rammed through State Parliament by the arrogant Newman Government,” Mr Pitt said.
“Not content with sacking more than 14,000 people, slashing frontline services, and breaking promises to cut the cost of living, the Newman Government has now used its massive majority to strip away many existing rights for injured workers
“There on the sidelines cheering on the Premier and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie were local LNP MPs.
“Voters were never told by Michael Trout, Gavin King, and David Kempton before the last election that a Newman Government would wind back the support and entitlements given to injured workers.”
Mr Pitt said the LNP’s legislation was unfair and unjust and would hurt decent working Queenslanders injured at work due to the negligence of their employer.
“The new laws impose a threshold of 5% for whole person impairment that must be met before anyone injured at work through employer negligence can take legal action for compensation,” he said.
“If you sustain a spinal injury assessed at 4% your rights have disappeared under this law that has been fully supported by the LNP MPs in the Far North.
“Another area of serious concern is the access given to employers of a central database which they can use to see if employees or prospective employees have previously claimed worker’s compensation.
“Some employers will use this to get rid of existing employees or to refuse to hire new ones who may have made claims in the past.”
Mr Pitt said even an LNP-dominated parliamentary committee had found changes were not needed.
“I served as deputy chair of the all-party parliamentary committee that examined our worker’s compensation scheme and made a unanimous finding that it should continue untouched,” he said.
“In addition, when it was finally released after being kept hidden by the LNP Government, the WorkCover annual report confirmed there is no need for this ideological assault on workers’ rights.”
Mr Pitt said the WorkCover annual report showed:
* the compensation scheme remains well-run
* premiums are still the second-lowest in the nation
* the number of common law claims is stable
* the cost of those claims is well under what was expected with net claims incurred reduced by $90.9 million, and
* annual profit more than doubled in 2012-13 – from $199 million to $517 million.
“The Newman Government’s changes will not only reduce peoples’ rights unnecessarily but will also jeopardise the financial health of the scheme,” Mr Pitt said.
“At the very minimum the people of the Far North deserve an explanation from their LNP MPs about why they have helped make life harder for people injured at work.”
Mr Pitt said the Newman Government had used its numbers to crush a move by the Opposiiton to amend the legislation to provide for an appeals process and an “exceptional circumstances” clause for injured workers who did not meet the 5% threshold.
“We also wanted to build in privacy safeguards in rlation to access to workers’ claims files but yet again the Newman Government refused tolisten to reason,” Mr Pitt said.
“Labor has committed to repealing the LNP’s unnecessary changes when we return to office.
“The only way to achieve justice for injured workers is to vote out the LNP.”