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NSW Treasurer hits back after workers' comp criticism

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NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has defended the state’s reformed workers’ compensation scheme following criticism from businesses.

The NSW Business Chamber last week called on Mr Perrottet to commission an urgent review of the system following employer complaints about poor practices since the reforms were introduced.

But today a spokesman for Mr Perrottet told insuranceNEWS.com.au the changes had brought huge improvements.

The old scheme “was failing injured workers, was predicted to be at least $4.1 billion in deficit, and businesses were facing premium rises of 28%”, the spokesman said.

“Today the most injured workers are receiving more support, business premiums have been reduced, and the scheme is back in the black .

“We have made significant reforms in the past three years but are always looking at ways to improve the system, so are happy to hear of suggestions.”

Under reforms enacted in 2015, roles in the workers’ compensation system are split between the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), Insurance and Care NSW (icare) and SafeWork NSW.

NSW Finance, Services and Property Minister Victor Dominello told insuranceNEWS.com.au NSW Business Chamber's concerns would be discussed.

“We all have an interest in maintaining a fair, efficient and financially sustainable workers’ compensation scheme,” Mr Dominello said.

“NSW businesses play a crucial role in the scheme and I know that both icare and SIRA intend to work closely with the NSW Business Chamber to address the issues identified.”

The business chamber says inefficiencies in the system are inflating insurance expenses and negatively impacting both employers and employees.

“We’re hearing from employers across the state about poor claims management practices, causing lengthy delays in workers receiving necessary medical and rehabilitation services,” CEO Stephen Cartwright said.

“Premiums are calculated on the time it takes to return an injured employee to the workplace, so these delays are unfairly inflating insurance costs.”

Mr Cartwright says the group has received reports of claims being approved without appropriate checks or investigations, lengthy delays, poor advice and low levels of support for both employers and employees.

“The promised efficiencies and professionalism from the split of functions simply haven’t eventuated. Some would argue they have declined and this is why we have requested a post-implementation review,” he said.

The business chamber has meetings scheduled for later this week with a number of workers’ compensation stakeholders.

icare insures more than 310,000 NSW businesses and 193 government agencies, covering about 90% of public and private sector workers in the state.