Fight against workers’ compensation cuts launched in Newcastle
On a visit to Newcastle today, Opposition Leader John Robertson launched Labor's campaign against the O'Farrell Government's sweeping cuts to workers' compensation and vowed to fight Barry O'Farrell on the issue all the way to the 2015 election.
"Last week Barry O'Farrell passed draconian laws in the dead of night that broke the safety net for virtually every injured worker in NSW," Mr Robertson said.
"The fight against these laws begins in the Hunter today.
"I issue an invitation to every injured worker. Sign Labor's petition and join our campaign."
Launching Labor's campaign alongside Mr Robertson were former drill operator Stephen Shedden, and aluminium smelter worker Chris Davey.
Mr Shedden has a long-term back injury resulting from a motor accident in October 2011 while driving his former company vehicle. Mr Davey has been incapacitated with a back injury for nearly three years.
"Workplace injuries can happen to anyone at any time – and nobody knows that better than Stephen and Chris," Mr Robertson said.
"Whether you work in the public or private sector – Barry O'Farrell's laws could hurt you next week, next month or in ten years' time.
"For the first time in decades, workers will no longer be looked after if injured to or from work – while those injured while moving between job assignments face an uncertain status.
"Workers who do the right thing and return to work will lose their medical benefits after 12 months – even if they require ongoing treatment or their injury comes back.
"From the day you are injured, your salary will be cut, with a further reduction after 13 weeks of the injury taking place.
"These laws completely terminate benefits to large numbers of injured workers after 2.5 years – and many others after 5 years, even if their injury is permanent and they cannot return to work.
"For the families of injured workers, the impact of these laws will be tragic.
"Both Stephen and Chris have young children to feed – yet thanks to the O'Farrell Government they stand at risk of losing virtually everything."
Mr Robertson said that the Government's shock decision to slash workers' compensation capped a series of breaches of faith with the electorate.
"In recent weeks, Barry O'Farrell has broken one promise after another," Mr Robertson said.
"Barry O'Farrell promised he would need more public sector workers not less – but his decision to axe 15,000 jobs will devastate the Hunter which coordinates so many frontline services.
"Barry O'Farrell promised to improve the health system – yet Calvary Mater, John Hunter and Maitland Hospitals remain critically underfunded to cope with growing population pressures.
"The Premier promised to rein in the cost-of-living – but since then, he's increased electricity prices, put up speeding fines by 12.5 per cent and hiked public housing rents for pensioners.
"Our State's power generators are being privatised and hunting will soon be commonplace in national parks such as Dorrigo and Barrington Tops.
"Make no mistake – these sweeping cuts to workers' compensation are the final straw.
"The Premier has no mandate to smash the safety net for injured workers – and Labor will fight against these changes in the interests of every worker in the Hunter and across NSW."
Copies of the NSW Labor petition opposing the O'Farrell Government's cuts to workers' compensation can be obtained by calling the Opposition Leader's office on (02) 9230 2310 or downloaded from www.johnrobertson.com.au.
Tags: Barry O'Farrell, compensation cuts, injury, jobs, John Robertson, Labor, Newcastle, NSW, workers