Businessmen Jason McPherson, Ben Ellingsen and Kerren Smith.
Businessmen Jason McPherson, Ben Ellingsen and Kerren Smith. Renee Pilcher

Govt crippling business

A GYMPIE businessman facing a crippling hike of more than $100,000 in his Work-Cover premium has praised Member for Gympie David Gibson for helping his business navigate the matrix of the controversial state body and achieve a reasonable outcome.

Jason McPherson hit out at WorkCover earlier this year after his CPM Engineering premium more than doubled in 12 months.

His criticism was backed by the Chamber of Commerce, Member for Gympie David Gibson and another high profile Gympie businessman, Kerren Smith, the managing director of J Smith and Sons.

Mr Smith agreed the system was flawed, but said the biggest problem with WorkCover was the enormous payouts businesses faced from rising, costly common law claims which in turn pushed premiums up.

Chamber of Commerce president Ben Ellingsen said there were some major issues with how businesses had their annual workers compensation premium calculated.

Under the legislation there is no consideration given to what safety measures are implemented by the business. No consideration was given to the OHS/WHS record of the business, he said.

"The problem is in the legislation, therefore it is squarely in the hands of the government to consult with business as to what changes need to be made and then implement those changes.

"Every business that employees staff must have appropriate cover, but the current system does not work."

Mr Gibson said it was clear from the number of complaints received by his office that the current methodology of how WorkCover premiums were calculated and how claims are supported needed to be reviewed.

"I've had several business owners contacting my office with premium increases of nearly 100% and they have had no claim on the past 12 months," he said.

"You have got to wonder how they are justifying these increases.

"When you then talk to the public servants trying to get things fixed it appears that their hands are tied, so what worries me is that WorkCover is a ticking time bomb left by the previous Labor Government and its long term future is not sustainable.

"Everyone wants to ensure that we have a fair system that provides coverage for workplace accidents but it can't send the business owner broke with premium increases, especially when there hasn't been a claim in the past 12 months."

Mr Gibson said a review of WorkCover was needed and he personally favoured the WA model where coverage was compulsory but where people could "shop around" for the best coverage for their business from a list of approved insurers rather than the monopoly arrangements in Queensland.

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