Sick police targeted

THE Police Death and Disabilty Scheme (DADS), which will be overhauled under a plan unveiled by Police Minister Mike Gallacher last week, was "simply unaffordable" in its present form Premier Barry O'Farrell told The Examiner in Grafton yesterday.

The NSW Police Association is considering industrial action over the proposed scrapping of generous payouts to injured officers under the scheme which was introduced in 2005.

The DADS scheme has seen a dramatic increase in compensation claims in the past four years and late last year the auditor general at the time Peter Achterstraat said nearly one-in-five police were on sick or stress leave.

Under the changes, the current death and disability scheme will be replaced with a new commercial insurance arrangement.

There will also be restrictions on officers' entitlements to workers compensation top-up payments, which are currently unlimited.

Mr O'Farrell said the aim of the changes were to get police who were able to return to work to do so.

"If you run a scheme that is essentially unaffordable, if you run a scheme that can't be financed in the long term that offers no solution."

"What this does is provide adequate support to those who are injured, but more importantly...we are determined to get injured officers back at work."

"At the end of the day this is about making sure that a police officer that joins today knows that in 20 or 30 years time there is a scheme that offers them security.

"A continuation of the existing scheme doesn't offer that because it is simply unaffordable."

Opposition police spokesman Nathan Rees says the changes are clearly a cost-cutting measure that show no consideration for the 16,000 NSW police.

"We don't have a police minister here in NSW - what we clearly have is a lap dog of NSW Treasury," Mr Rees told reporters in Sydney.

"His actions today mean that if they are injured or in (the) regrettable situation when an officer is killed on the job, their families or those officers will be far worse off."

Mr Gallacher defended the new policy, saying the current scheme encouraged officers to take lump sum payouts and leave the force, rather than being rehabilitated.

"The NSW scheme will remain the most generous in Australia," he said.