WorkCover should pay for withdrawn case

5th December 2006NSW Farmers’ Association is demanding WorkCover pay the legal costs of a Canowindra farmer who was forced to spend $300,000 in defending a court action against him which has now been withdrawn.

Association president, Jock Laurie, said the blunder by WorkCover must be rectified immediately and the farmer should not be forced to wear the costly mistake.

“This is an outrageous abuse of power by WorkCover bureaucrats in attacking an innocent farmer,” Mr Laurie said.

“Workcover was forced to withdraw the allegation through a lack of evidence and now refuses to pay for its mistake.”

The farmer had been charged for using an unsafe ‘as new’ piece of equipment – a 2388 International Harvester.

The association sais WorkCover maintained the farmer should have made numerous technical modifications – despite the fact the machine had been made by the world’s biggest manufacturer, Case New Holland, and cost more than $350,000.

After evidence was presented to the court that this was not possible, WorkCover had to withdraw that part of the case. A loophole in the Criminal Procedure Act 2006 prevented the presiding judge from awarding costs.

Mr Laurie said the case has significantly damaged WorkCover’s standing and reputation in the rural community who cannot afford to fight unjust legal action.

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