The Government proposed changes to the Comcare Scheme have caused the Labor and Greens Senators to express concern about the impact of the reforms on current entitlements and protections for public servants. Both parties are concerned that the reforms, if passed, will cause 160,000 public servants to lose their entitlements and that the proposed changes will directly and indirectly risk the workplace health and safety of workers.
Without the support of the Labor and Greens Senators the Government will have to look to independent and minor party members of the upper house to progress the reforms. It does however seem unlikely that the Government will be able to gain enough support from minor or independent party members to pass without amendments to the bill. The CPSU is also vigorously lobbying against the reform and says that it will be asking the Labor and Greens crossbenchers to oppose any moves that will reduce the rights of injured workers. The CPSU also plan to extend its campaign to include more than 250,000 workers in many industries beyond the public service who will be potentially impacted by the reform (for example, in the case of the Scheme being extended to apply to much more of the private sector) and is working with the ACTU and other unions to co-ordinate such a response.
To read a recent Russell Kennedy Insight on Comcare, including a summary of pros and cons, please click here.
For further information on the implications for businesses Andrew Klein has recorded a recent seminar on the topic Amendment Bill - Is Comcare attractive now? The three short videos can be watched here.