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Issue #1619      November 20, 2013

Bentleigh voters say no to TAC changes

Voters in the Liberal-held seat of Bentleigh have overwhelmingly voiced their disapproval for planned cuts to the Transport Accident Commission scheme as part of a poll commissioned by the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“Emergency services workers and all Victorians who suffer a severe psychiatric injury as a result of a transport accident stand to lose or have their common law rights severely restricted with the planned scheme’s slashing,” ALA National President, Geraldine Collins, said.

“The Australian Lawyers Alliance commissioned the ReachTel poll across four marginal State electorates in a bid to show the government just how unfavourably the changes would be viewed by its constituents.”

The poll of 438 voters in the seat of Bentleigh showed strong opposition to the proposed changes, as it did in the other electorates, Ms Collins said.

Under legislation before state parliament, psychiatric injury claims would be denied in almost all cases. The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) would also have unprecedented powers to veto independent medical advice and override the decisions of GPs and courts in assessing impairment caused by accident injuries.

The highest support was for emergency services workers who will be denied compensation if the bills are passed. An overwhelming 83.6 percent of voters for either party supported the right of emergency services workers, ambulance officers, fire-fighters, and police officers to claim for severe psychiatric injuries as a consequence of a fatal accident. Only 5.8 percent of respondents did not agree with the right and 10.5 percent were undecided.

Ms Collins said people believed that the government should consult with doctors, road trauma groups and other experts before reducing legal rights for transport accident victims.

More than 61 percent of respondents opposed changes to the TAC scheme which would allow the Commission to override doctors in assessing claims.

“The ALA urges the Napthine government to withdraw legislation amending the Transport Accident Act.

“There has been no consultation with road trauma victims or health professionals who treat such victims and who understand the detrimental health impacts of the Government’s plans. It is very clear from these results that the majority of Victorians are strongly opposed to changes, which would deny compensation to vulnerable family members, emergency services workers and severely injured victims.

“We call on the state government to go back to the drawing board and consult with the medical and allied health professionals, specialist psychiatrists and the ALA.

“To fail to do so will lead to many families unable to gain support anywhere for severe trauma that alters their way of life. That is unacceptable, especially in the light of the fact that TAC made profits of $973 million just last year,” Ms Collins said.

Next article – A new course set for Australia – Shrouded in secrecy

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