IT WAS an announcement that sparked union protests and public screaming matches within the walls of NSW Parliament but the O'Farrell Government's plan to overhaul Work Cover has been welcomed by the state's business leaders.
Introducing a bill which will dramatically reduce the amount of time injured workers can claim compensation in the Lower House this week, the Premier said the changes brought the NSW scheme in line with other states.
Mr O'Farrell said the changes would benefit those who were genuinely incapacitated and not those with a "minor back strain" for 20 years ago, who simply paid a trip to the doctor every 12 months to get a WorkCover certificate.
He said if the State Government had not made "tough decisions", WorkCover premiums for some business owners would have risen by up to 28%
State Opposition Leader John Robertson, who joined a workers union protest in Sydney last week, rejected the rise would be that high and refused to support the bill.
But Australian Industry Group director Mark Goodsell said eliminating the threat of WorkCover premiums rising was vital in a "lopsided economy".
He said historically, sky-high premiums were key to driving investment out of the troubled state.
"To many businesses there is no more important issue for confidence in the NSW economy and the creation of NSW jobs than a stable and competitive WorkCover Scheme," Mr Goodsell said
"(The) reform bill is strongly supported by the state's businesses and is a vital and long overdue step towards brining NSW in line with our competitor states."