The Andrews Labor Government appears to have backed down on its plan to raid the WorkCover Authority Fund.
In its 2019-20 Budget (p 23), Labor stated its intention to direct WorkSafe Victoria to pay $125 million in 2021-22 and $575 million in 2021-22 to help prop up its infrastructure program.
This planned raid formed part of Daniel Andrews’ pre-2018 election commitment (p 6) to raise $2.3 billion over four years in special dividends from Victoria’s state insurers in order to establish the Delivering for all Victorians Infrastructure Fund.
The Victorian Liberal Nationals fiercely opposed this planned raid, viewing WorkSafe’s assets as property held on trust for employers for the exclusive purpose of funding workers’ compensation and injury prevention.
In yesterday’s Budget (p 21), all reference to special dividends from WorkSafe had disappeared.
Notwithstanding Labor’s Workplace Safety Minister’s recent claim (p 3581) that “[t]he workers compensation scheme remains in a sound financial position,” this apparent back down suggests the opposite.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Workplace Safety, Nick Wakeling:
“The Victorian Liberal Nationals welcome the Andrews Labor Government’s apparent back down from its plan to raid WorkSafe to help prop up its infrastructure spending.
“This apparent back down is a Pyrrhic victory: it highlights the serious challenges facing the financial viability of WorkSafe’s insurance operations.
“The Victorian Liberal Nationals will remain on guard to ensure that Labor’s mismanagement of the Victorian WorkCover scheme does not lead to an increase in WorkCover premiums for already-struggling employers.