Labor fails to even city-regional workers’ comp divide

LABOR and the Greens have failed to change the State Government's billion-dollar reform of workers' compensation to ensure injured employees in regional NSW do not have their benefits docked because jobs exist in Sydney.

The LNP's overhaul aims to reverse several reforms made under former Liberal Premier Barry O'Farrell in 2012 that reduced medical benefits for injured workers.

An independent report last year found employers were better off than workers under the scheme because of limits imposed on workers' access to lawyers.

The current reforms will increase funding for injured workers' medical costs and increase their lump sum and weekly payments.

It will also provide 20% insurance premium discounts to employers who maintain a safe workplace.

But Labor upper house members called for amendments to ensure regional workers were not unduly disadvantaged.

They had the support of the Greens, the Shooters and Fishers and Mark Pearson from the Animal Justice Party.

"If the injured worker lives in Lismore, Dubbo or Bega, workers' compensation insurers are reducing their workers' compensation entitlements because of jobs available in Parramatta and in the heart of Sydney," Greens MP David Shoebridge said.

"They are saying to injured workers, 'Well, tough luck, because the law says we can do it. You should just up and move. We have no regard for where you live.'

"When you get to the nub of it, the current law actively discriminates against people who do not live in the centre of Sydney."

The amendments were voted down 20 votes to 18. -APN NEWSDESK

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