Media Release - 26 September 2012
The O'Farrell government has failed to restore the right of injured workers to legal costs and instead has put in place a new internal bureaucracy and a panel of WorkCover approved lawyers as a band aid solution to an ongoing crisis in the Workers Compensation system.
See the reports in today's media here: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/new-
"The O'Farrell government has created an ongoing crisis in the workers compensation system by accepting an amendment by Fred Nile to abolish the right of injured workers to legal assistance, even when they win their compensation cases.
"Today's response from the O'Farrell government is a sticky tape solution to the ongoing problem of seriously injured workers having to go it alone in compensation cases against well-heeled insurance companies.
"Before the O'Farrell government agreed with Fred Nile and abolished the right to legal costs in June this was not an issue and if workers won their case they had their costs paid.
"This new administrative costs scheme will reward those lawyers who serve the interests of WorkCover rather than those who fearlessly act in the interest of injured workers.
"With a 50% cut in the annual allowance for legal costs it is clear that the government's new laws have greatly reduced the legal rights of injured workers.
"The government has been forced to make this allowance because they supported Fred Nile's disastrous amendment abolishing injured worker's rights to recover legal costs.
"This is a marginal improvement on the prohibition on costs contained in the legislation, but it comes with a sting in the tail with the government effectively choosing which lawyers can act for injured workers," Mr Shoebridge said.