On 19 February 2020, Natasha Fyles, Minister for Disabilities, (“the Minister”) introduced the Return to Work Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (“the Bill”) into Northern Territory’s House of Assembly. On the same day, the Bill was referred to the Legislation Scrutiny Committee (“Committee”) for inquiry and report by 5 May 2020.
The Bill proposes extensive amendments to:
As outlined in the Bill’s Explanatory Statement (“ES”), the Bill “reverses a number of changes made to the legislation in 2015 and improves the operation of the NT workers’ compensation scheme”.
The Minister said in her speech:
“In 2015, the CLP government made a number of harsh changes to the act that hurt worker[s] … In the lead up to the 2016 Northern Territory General Election we made a commitment to reverse elements of the 2015 changes to the act.”
The proposed changes are the result of consultation with stakeholders, including unions and emergency services, with the Committee currently considering submissions received from interested stakeholders.
The Bill proposes extensive amendments to both pieces of legislation, with some of the proposed changes being:
In its submission to the Committee, thewas generally supportive of the proposed Bill and its amendments, while the (“ICA”) submitted “… the ICA is concerned that to date there has been very little consultation with the NT workers compensation insurers on the changes to the Scheme being introduced through the Bill …”
Thesaid in its submission “… it is disappointing that the Bill does not address any of the real issues causing disputes, litigation, and burdens on the court …”
In her speech to Parliament, the Minister commented:
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