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 applicant rather than being reasonably available to anybody. If you look at what the new provision says, even someone with a loose and very poor grasp of English, like the minister, could probably pick this up: the board determines, based on a medical assessment, that the person is capable of working in any employment whether such employment is reasonably available or not. In fact, in the objects of the amending bill, clause 4 states that one of the objects of this amending bill is to: confirm that the medical assessment o f the persons earning capacity only has regard to any residual disabilities arising from the accident and does not have regard to factors such as the availability o f employment or the persons level o f education, vocational skills, numeracy and literacy skills, or employment or other experience. Perhaps the minister in reply can stick to that fairly narrow issue which I have flagged that goes to the heart of the amendment, and answer the question: how can you assess a persons earning capacity if that type of employment is not reasonably available and, second, perhaps he could address this question: perhaps minister can take members of the House to the precise paragraph in Collman v TIO which he says identifies the real ambiguity which is referred to in that first question. In the second reading speech, I think there was a comment from the minister to the effect of if the assessment of ongoing benefits is to have regard to employment availability and other factors as outlined by the tribunal.. . that is, of course, Justice Riley, ... people only with minor injuries will remain entitled to Mr Stirling: If they are assessed as fit to work, and there is no job, they get social security. Mr MALEY: I am willing to listen to that inteijection if you want to speak up. Mr Stirling: I think you miss the point. If the person is assessed as fit to work and there is no work available, there is a federal government thing called social security; it is not MACAs job to pay unemployment benefit. Mr MALEY: Okay, well, that is obvious. If the person is assessed to ... Mr Elferink: You are injured in a car accident, and this governments result is get on the dole. Mr MALEY: That is exactly right. So you go from your $460 down to exactly that; you are on the social security earning your $160 per week. That is precisely what I am saying. In one sense, albeit the minister is stating an inevitable conclusion of the effect of this amendment, that is right, that is exactly right. Here we have the board which makes a determination of whether a person is capable in any employment... Mr Stirling: Medical assessment. Mr MALEY: A medical assessment, yes, and that employment is not reasonably available in the Northern Territory, despite that fact, the assessment says he is still a person who is capable of working, his benefits are then cut and you are right, like every other Australian citizen, he is entitled to go on to social security. Mr Stirling: He goes and gets a job. Fit to work, gets a job like everyone else. Mr MALEY: Okay. Now, I want you to listen carefully to this and try to understand it, because it is an issue which one day may affect even members of your family. In this paragraph, one of the justifications which the minister uses is that: This would result in large increases in contribution rates payable on registration of all motor vehicles to ensure that the scheme should continue to afford to pay for past and ongoing benefits ... and it goes on and on and on. Could the minister in reply perhaps just articulate the forecast potential liability, which he must have had on hand to make such an assertion and perhaps inform us as to the TIOs liabilities under the Motor Accidents (Compensation) Act for current and outstanding liabilities for claimants under the provision. If that is the rationale you are relying upon, you would expect it to be fiscally clear and not actuarial and the like. I am not going to labour the point. The minister is clear as to why the opposition will not be supporting amendment. The second reading speech, however, is misleading. The proposed amendment does go further than dealing with any perceived ambiguity which the government says has been highlighted in Collman v TIO. And remember that the applicant in Collmans case was not successful and I do not accept that there is an ambiguity that has been created by the Collman case. The court does refer to, and is bound by, a number of other decisions. For example, the decision of Gallop J and also the decision of I think it is - bear with me for a moment... 3075
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