Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:36): After discussion between the two sides of the parliament, I wish to seek leave to make a short statement about the passage this morning of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment (Exit Arrangements) Bill 2015. The Leader of the Government in the Senate agreed that this would be an appropriate time to do it.
Senator MOORE: I wish to make a short statement about the passage of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment (Exit Arrangements) Bill 2015. As was made clear in the contributions from opposition speakers on the bill, the opposition opposed the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment (Exit Arrangements) Bill 2015. Labor opposed the bill because it puts the cart well before the horse. It is true that the ACT government has announced its intention to leave Comcare. The ACT is committed to designing a new workers compensation scheme. The design of any new scheme will take a significant period of time, so there was no need to rush this legislation, as the Abbott Turnbull government has done.
Labor's first priority is always to ensure that employees are not worse off as a result of the government's proposed bill, and the decision we took to oppose the bill is firmly on that basis. Labor wanted to be certain that this bill will not enable the federal government to make its own Commonwealth workers worse off. On 9 June 2015, the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann, signalled that the Abbott-Turnbull government could give its Public Service heads the freedom to walk away from the Comcare workers compensation fund. It is entirely possible that the passage of that bill could assist in facilitating further exits from Comcare, which the finance minister has foreshadowed. There remain a number of unanswered questions about the application and possible consequences of this legislation. We sought to make clear our position on this bill at that time.