Proposed work fatality compensation manifestly inadequate, say unions

The new proposed fatality compensation is manifestly inadequate given that the ACT remains the second most dangerous state in Australia.

The ACT Government tabled a Bill last week to increase the workplace death compensation to be equivalent to Comcare compensation ($528,433), still amongst the lowest in Australia.

Three workers have died in the ACT in the past eighteen months: a construction worker at the University of Canberra Hospital, a truck driver near Majura, and a track work rider at Thoroughbred Park.

The proposed Government Bill mistakenly links private sector workplace fatality compensation to Comcare, rather than to the NSW private sector workers compensation.

Under the ACT Government’s Bill, the lives of private sector workers in Canberra would continue to be considered as worth less than private sector workers in NSW ($750,000).

Unions have advocated for almost a year that ACT fatality compensation for private sector workers should be at least the same as NSW workers. There would be no impact on workers compensation premiums to increase fatality compensation to the NSW lump sum.

The following quotes are attributable to Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT:

“The ACT is one of the most dangerous places to work in Australia, and it is only fair that workplace fatality compensation should be at least the same as in NSW.

“Workplace fatality compensation is paid to the family of a person who is killed at work. Unfortunately, this tragedy continues to be all too common in Canberra, despite the ACT being a small jurisdiction.

“As a city completely surrounded by New South Wales, it is manifestly unjust that the ACT Government wants to continue to value the lives of killed workers less than the NSW Government does.

“Canberra’s unions hope that compassion prevails and that the Assembly increases the fatality compensation.”

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