Unions NSW polling has revealed that the Liberal government’s program of workers compensation reform is deeply unpopular among NSW voters.
On the second anniversary of the O’Farrell Government, a union poll of 1,044 people across NSW found that 52% disapproved of last year’s cuts to the NSW scheme.
“While the business community is cheering the government on for cutting workers compensation and privatising ports and ferries, working people are feeling the consequences,” Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Lennon, said.
The poll had a margin for error of between two and three per cent.
When the O’Farrell Government introduced its compensation reforms in June 2012, it drew heavy criticism from both the Law Society of NSW and the NSW Bar Association. Then President of the Law Society, Justin Dowd, called the changes “an unnecessary attack on workers’ rights” which were “poorly considered” and passed without consultation.
The reforms included a new assessment system which capped ongoing benefits for medical expenses, including physiotherapy and counselling. They also introduced a tougher test for payments, based on a “work capacity assessment”.
Mr O’Farrell claimed the changes were necessary to bring down the state’s WorkCover scheme $4 billion deficit without also introducing massive increases to employers’ premiums.
The state’s peak business lobby group, the NSW Business Chamber, agreed with the Premier’s assessment. It recently awarded his government an 8 out of 10 for performance, claiming it had restored confidence in the state’s institutions.
“The major reforms to the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme are an example of prioritising the health of business and creating new jobs over cheap politics,” the Chamber’s CEO, Stephen Cartwright, said.