How the Senate cut 40% off its workers’ comp premium

The Senate’s clerk Rosemary Laing is too modest. A 40% drop in her department’s workers’ compensation premium is down to an “excellent performance” and not crazy bargains from Comcare.

It is often said that the cost of workers’ comp premiums are a sore spot for the heads of many Canberra-based departments, agencies and taxpayer-funded corporations, as though their own actions and those of their staff have nothing to do with it.

The ACT Government’s recent decision to take its whole public service out of the Comcare scheme and craft its own is a case in point as it was, at least in part, an attempt to spend less on workers’ compensation than it was shelling out to the federal agency.

But, as an exchange in Budget Estimates demonstrated, Comcare premiums fluctuate from year to year and can go down though good management. Clerk of the Senate Rosemary Laing told Labor’s Penny Wong her small department had seen a 40% drop in the premium, from $217,000 in 2013-14, to $111,000 in 2014-15.

Over the past couple of decades, said Laing, the Department of the Senate’s premiums had generally come down to a lower base level overall. When Wong commented it was a good result, she modestly replied:

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