It was wrong and mischievous to claim that $10 million was missing from the SGIC's industrial diseases fund, Minister assisting the Treasurer, Geoff Gallop said today.
Dr Gallop said $6.8 million had been apportioned by the industrial diseases fund to cater for outstanding claims liabilities.
"This means that nearly $7 million has been set aside to pay for claims over the next 10 years," he said.
"This contingency was only taken into account in the last financial year, and means effectively that nearly $4 million extra has been set side.
"It is very naive - and clearly wrong - to suggest that this money is lost or missing.
"The industrial diseases fund is being prudently managed, and all claims from people in the mining industry have been met and will continue to be met."
Dr Gallop said the Chamber of Mines and Energy was creating a very misleading impression with its use of the figures.
"The fact is that the mining industry has enjoyed great benefits from the fund. Premiums paid by mining companies have gone down from $1.7 million to $292,000 in the past two years," he said.
The fund provides financial support for people who have contracted silicosis, pneumoconiosis and mesothelioma from working in the mining industry.
"Last year, it paid out $1.25 million in this way," Dr Gallop said.
He said that as a result of writedowns in the SGIC's property investments, $3.76 million had been written off in the last financial year.
"It is ludicrous for the Chamber to suggest that the fund's monies should be invested separately from other SGIC investments," Dr Gallop said.
"The IDF, like other SGIC funds, has a stake in large Western Australian property developments which are cold, hard assets.
"A series of steps has been taken with the aim of putting the SGIC on a better financial footing.
"Firstly, a new board has been appointed and I do not believe that even the Chamber of Mines and Energy would question its ability or enthusiasm.
"Secondly, legislation is in parliament to increase the SGIC's prudential responsibility in its investment policy through the establishment of the Insurance Commission of WA.
"Thirdly, Cabinet has agreed to establish a working party to review workers' compensation for industrial diseases."
The working party would look at the role of this particular fund, and the mining industry would be expected to take a major role on a taskforce to carry out the review.