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Workers Rehabilitation & Compensation Amendment bill 2022 (No 48)

Wednesday 23 November 2022, Second reading speech

[11.54 a.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I certainly support this legislation and I consider it is a very good amendment to the principal act. We all know that firefighting or fighting bushfires is difficult work, often in challenging conditions. We learnt last time with the principal act about the carcinogens and the likelihood of firefighters contracting cancer at work.

Ms Forrest - Also the building fires that are particularly toxic.

Ms ARMITAGE - You do not know what people have in their homes, either. I always remember with car fires, the carcinogenic nature of the rubber and stuff when it burns.

Mr Valentine - It can be all sorts of things - chemicals and sprays and the like.

Ms ARMITAGE - That is the real problem. As they say, 'firefighters and our emergency services go in, where we are running out'. We need to make sure that we protect them. I am very pleased to see that the bill amends section 27 to include a group of workers who are currently not covered by the presumptive provisions of section 27 and these workers are part of the Bushfire Risk Unit of the Tasmania Fire Service. I am also pleased to see that the occupational firefighter definition will be changed to include the new definition that will be occupational firefighter.

Age is very important as well. We all know, as mentioned by other speakers, that people are working longer and, obviously, there is a real need. However, I am sure that particularly in those areas you need everyone you can to get out there in times of bushfires. They should be supported and protected. I am very pleased that the amendments provide that where a worker is injured at work, two years - which has changed from the current 12 months or more ‑ before the worker reaches the pension age, entitlements to weekly payments will cease when the worker attains the pension age and that if the injury occurs when the worker is less than two years - which was changed from the current 12 months - before the date on which the person attains the pension age, then entitlements to weekly payments will cease on the date two years - increased from one year - after the injury occurs.

The only problem with the bill is that there does not seem to be provision for existing workers who are older and the disadvantages that may occur. I am not sure whether there are any plans for the Government to look at that in the future; but people are working later and working older. Your age should not matter - if you are injured at work, you should be covered until the date that you recover.

I appreciate the bill before us. It is certainly an improvement on the principal act, and I support the bill.


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