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Question Time: Labor's Attack on Worker's Compensation

2 June 2022


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: if that was the view of the government, why didn't they flag that during the election campaign? Could it be because they knew working people wouldn't support them and wouldn't support this attack on their rights?


The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question. We made no commentary about the Summerfield case or any potential about it during the campaign, except to say that we couldn't make a decision from opposition without having government advice and knowing what the actuarial situation was.


The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Hood was on his feet first. The Hon. Mr Hood has a supplementary question.


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: does the minister have confidence in the ReturnToWork board?


The PRESIDENT: Minister, you can answer the question.


The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question. I have not had a meeting with all members of the ReturnToWork board; I will seek to do that in the future. I have had concerns raised with me that return to work rates have been cut over time, aggressively perhaps, and also that no provision seems to have been made in contemplation of the Summerfield decision, so they will be issues I will be raising with the board.


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question on the topic of injured workers to the Minister for Industrial Relations.


 Earlier today, representatives of a number of South Australian unions sent a letter to Labor MPs. In that letter, it was stated that, as reported in InDaily:


…the Return To Work SA board has 'undertaken no steps—


this is from the union officials—


to ensure the scheme was adequately funded'…


'Instead, they have allowed the underfunding of the scheme to develop to a point where they have threatened a massive increase in the RTW Levy unless the government cuts entitlements,' the letter said.


'The unelected Board of a government agency should not be making law. That's not their job; it's yours.'


It says to the Labor MPs. The letter goes on to say, according to InDaily, that they have:


…'lost faith' in the organisation's board and management, arguing RTW's 'mismanagement of injured workers' entitlements [has] led to this ultimatum being placed at the feet of your government'.


My question to the minister therefore is: why hasn't he met with the ReturnToWork board and does he have concerns about the lack of representation of unions and working people on the board?


The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question. Certainly, I had discussions with the department, who liaise with the board. Do I have concerns? Yes, I do.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: can the minister explain what his concerns are and what action he will be taking?


The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his questions. Certainly, there have been representations with those who represent employees that there is not an employee representative on the board. I know that sometime ago the board went from a representative-type board to a skills-based board, but that is a concern of those who represent employees and one I will be having a very good look at.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: what action will the minister be taking in response to those concerns?


The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question. Once again, it is something that in very recent times has been a representation made to me, and I will be looking at that.