Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 November 1994
Parliamentary Record 6
Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 23 November 1994 feel that the appropriate action would be to let it proceed but, because o f the amendment made by this bill, it would not be able to do that even though it considered that to be the fit and proper thing to do. What we are proposing is an escape clause, if you like, for the board that will enable it to act if a situation o f this kind should arise. Such a situation may never eventuate but, if it does, the board will have available to it an escape provision to act in this way where it feels it to be fair and reasonable in a particular case. It may see it as a strange situation but, in the interests of justice, will be able to allow the claim to be made. It is our intention to move that amendment in the committee stage. We cannot support the bill as it stands. We understand what the minister is trying to achieve and, if he will accept an amendment o f this nature, which simply enables the board to do what it would like to do, we will be happy. If people have been slack or have not made a claim for some other reason, they will miss out at the expiry o f the 3-year period. However, there is also a need to ensure that there no denial o f natural justice o f the kind that I have outlined. Mr BAILEY (Wanguri): Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to make a couple o f comments. Both the Motor Accidents (Compensation) Act and the Work Health Act provide the protection that, if a person is injured, whether it is through a motor vehicle accident or in a workplace, theoretically they will not be disadvantaged by that occurrence. In other words, their minimum status prior to the accident will remain approximately the same. There will be no so-called compensation payouts for injury sustained in accidents as applied in the old days when people would make a claim for damages on the basis o f an injury or perhaps a scar etc. If a person has a motor vehicle accident or a work health claim, their earning capacity basically will be maintained. They will be compensated for loss o f wages while they are recuperating and their medical expenses will be paid. I believe some minor compensation is paid for any loss o f ability. In other words, where a person has lost a part o f the body or has become permanently disabled, there is a minimum level o f compensation for that loss or disability. A person involved in an accident in any o f those situations really does not gain anything from the system. Hopefully, at the end o f the day, they do not lose anything either. However, situations quite often arise where people involved in a motor vehicle accidents may break an arm and be admitted to Royal Darwin Hospital. They may be transported to the hospital in an ambulance. They spend a couple o f days in hospital, the arm is set in plaster and they return to work a few days later. When they are discharged, there is nothing to pay at the hospital. They sign the release form and off they go. In many cases, no one will mention to them that they should make a MACA claim or anything else, and they believe that is the end of the matter. On occasion, there are quite clear cases where people have sustained an injury or been involved in an accident, but there was no indication at the time that there would be any ongoing problem. A simple example is a broken arm. The persons arm may be fractured and is put in plaster but, if no one advises the person that they need to make a MACA claim, they may not do so because they may not have received any bills as a result o f the accident. For example, if they attended Royal Darwin Hospital, it may well be that no bills were involved because the expenses were claimed on Medicare ... Mr Hatton: They are supposed to make a MACA claim even if they go to the hospital. 1837
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