There was a battle looming over WorkCover’s attempts to keep secret key changes to its multimillion dollar contract with its claims manager.
“WorkCover Chairman Philip Bentley today told the Statutory Authorities Review Committee hearing that WorkCover believed critical contract changes provided to the Committee should not be made public,” Liberal MLC Rob Lucas said today.
“If these changes to the contract were to result in millions of dollars extra being given to the claims manager (Employers Mutual Limited) then both WorkCover and the Rann Labor Government should be required to defend publicly the reasons for such an increase in payments.
“It is clearly in the public interest that there be transparency and accountability for any decision which has a potential multimillion dollar impact on the viability of the WorkCover scheme.
“This is especially the case when the Parliament has to consider a Rann Government regulation to enable implementation of these changes in the coming weeks.”
Mr Lucas said the Statutory Authorities Review Committee will be considering WorkCover’s request for secrecy over the coming weeks.
In other evidence to today’s Committee meeting:
• WorkCover confirmed they had received advice from their internal actuary the unfunded liability at 31 December 2008 had topped $1 billion for the first time;
• WorkCover defended their new policy of not meeting on a monthly basis (as they had previously) even though unfunded liabilities had gone above $1 billion for the first time and the global financial crisis was creating major problems for their investments;
• WorkCover defended their decision to not accept advice they received in 2004-05 to increase significantly the number of redemptions of claims whilst belatedly in 2008 deciding to increase the number of redemptions.
“Whilst it is clear the global financial crisis has had an impact on WorkCover, its Board and management must also accept some responsibility for the continual deterioration in the financial viability of the scheme,” Mr Lucas said.