Legislative Council: Thursday, March 21, 2024


Workplace Death Compensation

The Hon. B.R. HOOD (14:49): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Attorney-General regarding workplace death compensation.

Leave granted.

The Hon. B.R. HOOD: The Sunday Mail reported on 10 March 2024 that the family of slain Lucindale police officer, the late Brevet Sergeant Jason Doig, would not be entitled to compensation following his death while on duty. As Brevet Sergeant Doig did not have a partner at the time, nor any dependents, a $585,000 compensation payment that would have been owed to his family was denied, which was described as a legal loophole.

The Police Association has called this outcome 'outrageous' and are imploring the Attorney-General to urgently intervene. My question to the Attorney-General is: what advice has the Attorney-General received on this matter and will he heed the calls of the Police Association to intervene?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:50): I thank the honourable member for his question. I have certainly had discussions with the Police Association on this matter.

Just for the honourable member's benefit, the payments under the Return to Work scheme—and I think it operates in every other jurisdiction around Australia—aren't payments in relation to a criminal activity that's occurred. It is a scheme that makes sure that, firstly, when a worker is injured, they have an income to support them during at least part of that injury and, secondly, where there are people who have relied upon that income—that is, dependents: a spouse or dependent children—there are circumstances where that payment can be made to those dependents.

It has not been designed, and it has not been designed in other jurisdictions, as a compensation scheme for victims of very tragic circumstances we see all too often in terms of workplace deaths. Notwithstanding this, I have sought advice and we are looking at whether there are other mechanisms outside a scheme that's not designed for these sorts of compensation payments like the Return to Work Act, such as the victims of crime scheme.