Workplace injuries can ruin people's lives. And not just by robbing the injured worker of the quality of their lives but also the quality of the lives of families and friends of injured workers. Sometimes injured workers are never able to function again as a father, mother, uncle or aunty, son or daughter, wife, husband, lover or fit and healthy grandparents providing support to their kids and that special relationship of grandparents with their grandkids.

Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce’s comment that "everybody gets a prize" ignores this pain, suffering and misery. It is facile and offensive and trivialises proper compensation for workplace injuries. Those of us who don’t get injured at work are the ones who get a prize. The Minister made this observation in the Legislative Council on 28 March, in a speech which sneered at long-term physiotherapy and remedial massage and took a shot at over-charging surgeons. His comments missed the point.

If the Minister really was announcing that "this government intends to clean up the scheme", then a review of Workers Compensation to better manage over-charging and over-servicing would be both predictable and reasonable.  No-one defends rorting the system. Rorting makes everyone else involved in the system suffer. Rorting is a function of the adequacy of how the system is managed and the auditing of the processes - that's what needs reviewing.  But that's not what the Government is proposing at all.

The Government has established an Inquiry to investigate significant cutbacks in compensation which have the potential to affect every employee who may have an accident at work or an accident in travelling to or from work. This is not cleaning up the system, this is making injured workers pay.

Unions NSW has come out hard against the Government announcements. And so it should. depa is affiliated to Unions NSW and will, like all other affiliated unions, happily contribute a levy of one dollar per member to fund his campaign. Make no mistake, getting injured at work devastates families as well as the quality of life of an injured worker.

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