Rally against workers comp cuts

THE sound of thousands of workers marching down Sydney's Macquarie St on Wednesday was almost drowned out by the screaming match taking place inside NSW Parliament walls.

Braving torrential rain, workers from across the public sector rallied against the proposed workers compensation cuts outlined in Tuesday's NSW Budget.

As part of the biggest WorkCover overhaul in the state's history, the State Government also plans to dramatically reduce the amount of time workers can receive funding for medical support.

One speaker demanding an audience with Premier Barry O'Farrell on Wednesday was 26-year-old nurse Emily Orchard who suffered spinal injuries while attempting to resuscitate a patient in 2008.

During question time State Opposition Leader John Robertson asked Premier Barry O'Farrell how he could justify cutting funding to workers like Ms Orchard.

In response Mr O'Farrell launched a scathing attack on the Labour Party's WorkCover record.

Screaming from both sides of the house followed, forcing the Speaker to call for calm.

Mr O'Farrell said the WorkCover changes were the only way to recover from a $4.1 billion deficit left behind by Labor at last year's state election.

He said the State Government made "no apologies" for the budget announcements and said further lack of action would have resulted in more job cuts and an unacceptable rise in costs for company bosses.

"Let's not pretend (Labour) is pure on this issue," Mr O'Farrell said

"They can cry crocodile tears but what they should do is accept responsibility for the mess they left behind."

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon said the State Government should stop using injured workers as a soft target.

"This NSW Government has got it badly wrong on this issue," Mr Lennon said.

"They are saying that not only should NSW workers accept a higher risk of workplace injury than other states, but they should accept a drastically reduced safety net into the bargain."

The Sydney rally was the first of many expected to take place across the state in the next week.


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