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Opposition claims Comcare report buried

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The federal opposition says it would welcome a crackdown on dubious Comcare claims but doubts the system will see any changes before the federal election.

The opposition's employment and workplace relations spokesman Eric Abetz said he had not read the recommendations in a federal government review of the $1.2 billion Comcare insurance scheme, but was tired of the burden of dubious claims being ''foisted'' upon taxpayers.

The review, ordered last year by Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten, has urged sweeping reform to cut down on workers compensation claims for psychological injuries, payouts for dodgy therapies, doctor shopping and outright fraud.

The review has made more than 147 recommendations to rewrite the legislation on federal public sector compensation claims with the aim of shifting the emphasis from a payout-oriented scheme to one that favours rehabilitation and returning to work.

The taxpayer-funded insurer lost more than half a billion dollars in the 2011-12 financial year as the number of claims for psychological injuries in the public sector - many related to accusations of bullying and harassment - increased.

Senator Abetz said the ''salacious'' case of a public servant compensated for injuries sustained during sex in a motel room on a work trip was an example of the sorts of claims that ''tarnished'' the ''tens of thousands of public servants who go about their work reputably without these sorts of claims''.


''Clearly, once they indicated a $500 million shortfall and a huge rise in claims something had to be reviewed, so the concept of the review that Bill Shorten announced, I think, was appropriate,'' Senator Abetz said.

''But it's time now for some strategic discussions.

''One has to ask the question why there has been a 30 per cent increase in bullying and stress claims over the last three years. It does seem somewhat coincidental that this huge surge in stress and bullying has come at a time that the government has been exceptionally dysfunctional.''

Senator Abetz said the proposal to tackle the ''long tail'' of the Comcare scheme, where an individual claim can exceed $2 million, and getting public servants back to work was the right track.

''Releasing [the report] on Easter Saturday does make me question how serious the minister is about addressing this issue,'' he said.

''We've only got five parliamentary weeks left before the election, so one assumes the government won't do anything about it before the election.''