Agencies say no to Weatherill's workers compensation changes

Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today both SA Water and the Courts Administration Authority have expressed concerns about possible cost increases from the Weatherill Government’s decision to transfer responsibility for managing workers’ compensation claims to ReturnToWorkSA.

The CEO of SA Water Roch Cheroux last week told the Budget and Finance Committee that if they were forced to move to ReturnToWorkSA there would be a significant increase in costs:

Chairperson: “was your analysis that there would be a significant increase in your workers compensation costs?

Mr.Cheroux: Yes. I will need to get back to you with the exact figure but I think the analysis was that it was more than $1 million of cost difference.”

Mr.Cheroux later clarified that the $1 million figure might not be for just 1 year and he would need to check the time period. He also confirmed that the SA Water board had considered the issue and opposed the proposed move to ReturnToWorkSA.

SA Water are now in the process of being exempted from the forced move.

The head of the Courts Administration Authority Julie-Anne Burgess gave similar evidence to the Budget and Finance Committee on 18 April 2017:

Ms Burgess: “I think there is a general sense that there may be increased costs under the new arrangements.”

Ms Burgess went on to highlight in the past the CAA had chosen to not join the Government’s Shared Services proposal and had the option of not agreeing to a forced move to ReturnToWorkSA.

Government Departments have confirmed that they have still not been advised what premiums will be charged by RTWSA even though the policy starts in less than two months.

This evidence confirms that the Weatherill Government did not complete a comprehensive business case before making its decision last year.

The evidence also confirms the confidential findings of the Bentley/Latham report presented to Cabinet which concluded:

“However the point remains that there is no evidence in the comparisons that suggest the SA Crown Workers Compensation, taken in its entirety, has been poorly managed in a financial sense. Our general conclusion is that the Crown as a whole has performed well in terms of maintaining control of claims costs. There are no obvious signs of major mismanagement.”

“The fact that agencies are actively opposing the Weatherill Government’s policy is a major embarrassment to the Government,” said Mr Lucas.

“Whilst the Courts Administration Authority and SA Water have the independence to opt out, the problem for all other departments is they are not allowed to opt out.

“It is a damning indictment that the Government has no idea at all of what the cost implications for the budget will be from the policy.

“The pressure is now on the Weatherill Government to answer the many questions and concerns that have been raised about the policy and the Government should not proceed until these questions have been answered.”

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