Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002
Parliamentary Record 9
Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 27 November 2002 Can I just put on the record that the responsible minister has actually left the Chamber. This demonstrates how interested he is in the welfare of people who may be potential recipients under this type of legislation. I put on the record that I suspect he really does not have an understanding o f ... Mr AH KIT: A point of order, Mr Acting Deputy Speaker! The member for Goyder knows that he should not be reflecting on the character of a member when they are not present in the Chamber. Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Goyder knows full well that he cannot refer to the absence of a member from the House. I ask him to withdraw. Mr MALEY: Speaking to the point of order, there is absolutely no way you can take the comments I made as a reflection upon his character. It was merely a statement of fact for those people who have time to read the transcript that he left the Chamber during the course of this particular piece of legislation. Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: Nonetheless, member for Goyder, I think you should withdraw your reference to the fact that the ... Mr MALEY: I withdraw any possible inference I made which may have inadvertently reflected on his character. Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. You may continue. Mr MALEY: Not that I admit for a moment that I did. This new amendment is about determining the amount of compensation a person receiving the weekly benefits should receive. If you look at section 5 of the amending legislation, and under the new provisions it will be section 13(3), there is a new formula. The formula talks about 40 being the number of hours which an average person works, and then if you take away X, and X is the figure which the board determines are the hours he is quite capable of working; and then you multiply that by the maximum payable per week as determined, and that is the sum which he is going to receive. This is the crux of the argument, and this is why the opposition will not be supporting this piece of legislation. The board determines, this is this figure X, based on a medical assessment that the person is capable of working in any employment whether such employment is reasonably available or not. So here you have the situation where the board will be determining this persons capability of working in any employment, irrespective of whether or not such employment is available in the Northern Territory. A practical example might be a person who loses a leg. The board then determines that he can work as a one-legged crane driver, and then they can make an arbitrary decision as to what sort of capacity he would have as a one-legged crane driver, and despite the fact that there is no such job in the Northern Territory, they could then cut or reduce his benefits. How can you assess that persons earning capacity if that employment is unavailable? It just does not make sense. It is not logical and is inherently flawed. During Question Time I could hear a few jibes about, Your interpretation is wrong, and the usual rudeness you come to expect. But I will be very interested to hear what succinct and logical explanation or interpretation you can put on this. It changes the current position; it changes it substantially... Mr Stirling: That is a lie. That has existed for 23 years under your government and it is a good scheme. Mr ELFERINK: A point of order, Mr Acting Deputy Speaker. The minister is fully aware of the conventions of this House. I ask that he withdraw. Mr STIRLING: I withdraw and I ask him to keep his remarks factual. Mr MALEY: I am convinced that the minister has absolutely no idea about this legislation. He can rant and rave and try to get his minders no doubt to massage the press, but this is absolutely spot on. I will explain it for him, slowly. The current regime seems to be working. It has worked since 1979. There is no ambiguity created by Collmans case which would warrant this amendment. Mr Stirling: You still do not understand. Mr MALEY: You have the previous position where - perhaps Justice Riley has made a mistake as well, according to the very learned minister: The issue is one o f capacity and that is assessed by reference to employment available to the person. In determining whether employment is available to the person it is necessary to consider the whole of the surrounding circumstances including factors personal to the applicant... along with the level o f availability o f particular forms o f employment within the relevant community. The issue is governed by the concept o f reasonableness. The work must be reasonably available to the particular 3074
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