Dave Noonan

Move to protect emergency service workers from lawsuits

QUEENSLAND emergency service personnel and public servants could be protected from legal litigation under new legislation being considered by the government.

The changes are designed to protect state employees who are working in an official capacity from being sued.

Under the proposed legislation, which was introduced into State Parliament last month, the liability will be transferred to the state.

However, the legislation does include a clause that allows the government to recoup costs from employees who have engaged in conduct other than in good faith where it amounts to gross negligence.

During a departmental briefing, the Finance and Administration Committee was told on Monday (Dec 2) the proposed Public Service and Other Legislation (Civil Liability) Bill was supported in principal by a number of government organisations.

Public Service Commission executive director Katie Holm told the committee an example of how the proposed legislation could be used to protect government workers from civil claims.

"An example may be a disability support worker who in fulfilling their duties and trying to prevent one of the clients from engaging in harm and in restraining that client they may injure them in some way," she said.

"It is in the performance of their role, but it is not an intentional injury that has been caused."

Ms Holm told the committee some workers have stated they have a fear of being sued when undertaking their respective roles.

"That is certainly the feedback we are getting in that it is influencing people's decision making in terms of how they implement their roles and responsibilities."

Premier Campbell Newman said, when introducing the proposed legislation into State Parliament, the bill provided a level of certainty which currently did not exist.

"Our public servants and police officers should know the government and the community values their service and this is reflected through this bill by providing an appropriate level of protection from civil liability," he said.

"But let me be clear, this is not about reducing responsibility and accountability of public servants.

"It is about ensuring that we have a framework in place that supports our people when they do the jobs we ask of them and do them to an appropriate standard."

The committee is expected to report their findings in February next year.


Bushfire reported near Glen Esk

Bushfire reported near Glen Esk

People in the area may be affected by smoke

Newly planted trees stolen straight out of soil in parklands

Newly planted trees stolen straight out of soil in parklands

The group planted 35 trees for National Tree Day earlier this year.

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