Media

Industry groups back business saving COVID repeal bill

MEDIA RELEASE November 14, 2021

Peak industry bodies the National Retail Association (NRA), the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), The Surf & Boardsports Industry Association (SBIA), Snowsports Industry of Australia (SIA), Restaurant & Catering Industry Association of Australia (RCA) and the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) have backed moves by the New South Wales Government to repeal Section 19B of the Workers Compensation Act 1987.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that the repeal was crucial to helping New South Wales mum-and-dad retail businesses survive after experiencing such a harrowing year.
“Under the current scenario any NSW retail worker who contracts COVID is automatically deemed to have done so at work. This presumption was fair enough at the start of the pandemic but with the economy now reopening it needs to be repealed,” Ms Lamb said.

“We have now transitioned to a stage where not only is the presumption obsolete, but it will act as a wrecking ball across a swag of industries in the coming months if it is not repealed.
“As the state continues to reopen it is undeniable that there will be a spike in cases across December and January. It would be completely illogical to presume that workers across our industries who contract COVID would have definitely done so at work.

“The Government’s own estimates indicate that 25,000 extra claims could hit small businesses over the coming year with an average increase in their insurance premiums of $950.”
FCA CEO Mary Aldred also urged crossbench members of the Legislative Council to back the bill.

“New South Wales businesses have endured a horrific year with a prolonged lockdown. They need every ounce of help they can get and repealing this obsolete legislation is one simple bit of assistance they desperately need,” Ms Aldred said.

“We urge the entire parliament to support this bill. New South Wales businesses cannot afford to be hamstrung by outdated legislation that has not kept pace with the changing nature of the pandemic.”

AACS CEO Theo Foukkare said that New South Wales high vaccination rate meant that it was time to unwind the presumption measure.
“More than 90 per cent of the New South Wales public is double dosed. It’s simply not fair to small business to keep this measure in place and AACS urges both the Opposition and Crossbenchers to support this bill,” Mr Foukkare said.

Restaurant and Catering Association (R&CA) CEO Wes Lambert said ““It’s no longer reasonable to assume in the first instance that an employee contracted COVID in the workplace. Retaining this legislation continues to set a dangerous precedent, which could lead to dramatically increased expenses to businesses and potential misuses of the workers compensation system.”

SIA Executive Officer Lloyd Green said “It makes absolute sense to repeal the legislation as business needs building blocks not road blocks. The legislation was created at a different time when we were unsure and unvaccinated. Repealing the legislation doesn’t water down employees rights or protection it supports our recovery.”

For media enquire, please see the following contacts:
Dominique Lamb – 0467 792 013
Mary Aldred – 0401 476 007
Theo Foukkare – 0423 003 133
Wes Lambert – 1300 722 878 or 0488 579 888
Lloyd Green – 0418 100 094
Anthony Wilson (SBIA) – 0408 656 846

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