Parliamentary Entitlements Amendment (Injury Compensation Scheme) Bill 2016

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Assistant Minister to the Treasurer) (10:03): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

In the 2015-16 budget, the government announced it would address the lack of coverage by establishing an injury compensation scheme for parliamentarians. The Parliamentary Entitlements Amendment (Injury Compensation Scheme) Bill 2016 implements this announcement.

The bill establishes the parliamentary compensation scheme by inserting provisions into the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990. The bill provides authority to the minister to determine the scheme's benefits in a legislative instrument, which as much as possible will match the compensation entitlements of Commonwealth employees by incorporating the provisions of theSafety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988. The scheme will provide coverage for injuries or illnesses which occur on or after 1 January 2016.

The bill and subordinate legislative instrument will also provide compensation coverage for the spouse of the Prime Minister for injuries or illnesses arising out of the official activities.

Determining the scheme's benefits in an instrument such as this, which either house of the parliament may disallow, will allow the parliamentary compensation scheme to keep pace with any changes to Commonwealth employees' compensation. At the same time, it will ensure there is appropriate oversight of the scheme's benefits.

Functions and powers to administer the scheme are conferred on Comcare under the bill and the necessary changes are made to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 to enable Comcare to undertake this administration.

In addition to this compensation, the scheme will provide parliamentarians and the spouse of the Prime Minister with work health and safety services, facilities and equipment intended to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks that arise in the workplace. This element of the scheme will be administered by the Department of Finance.

This is a necessary measure, and I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.