Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 999..
MR BERRY (continuing):
As I said earlier, I am concerned that this is a blunt instrument, but something has to be done or these training companies are going to start folding. Bear in mind, too, that the government used to pay a subsidy to training companies and that has been discontinued. Now, that subsidy having been discontinued does not help things much either.
I am not a great supporter of subsidies on these issues, either, because they tend just to drive the prices up in many cases, in my view, as a matter of principle. But it would be better to have a subsidy than not have one in this case, where one of these training companies may go belly-up, as they have done in other places. I have a press release in front of me from the Australian Financial Review about a crash in Western Australia in which one of the training companies went belly-up.
For the interest of members, I seek leave to table the letter and the attached table, which sets out graphically how the problem has developed.
MR BERRY: I will hand it up in a moment.
MR SPEAKER: Very well.
MR BERRY: Essentially, all I am saying is that the option is not there for us to do nothing. Mr Humphries draws attention to the question of whether this is mandatory. Of course we want something done; that is why we support the motion, and we expect the government to do something. But, as with all motions in this place that direct the government, we expect the government to respond positively to those expressions of the Assembly's will. However, if the government has a better idea, we will listen to it, as I indicated earlier.
We will also listen to the insurance companies, if they have a better idea. As I said, one idea might be attaching these companies to some sort of special fund that will deal with this insurance, so that the obligation for the premium is spread across the industry that causes the increased risk, which the insurance companies have assessed and on which they have accordingly based premiums imposed on the training companies.
Those are the issues that have to be addressed. I have the basic view, and I express it again, that the people who injure workers ought to be the ones who are responsible for the outcomes of those injuries, that is, premiums and penalty clauses wherever they exist, for example, in occupational health and safety legislation.
MR HIRD (11.24): I think that what Mr Kaine was referring to was something that, as legislators, we all have to take into account. That is a past history, and I know that Mr Osborne, to his credit, is probably trying to work through this very, very vexed issue.
Mr Kaine points to an issue that you would recall, Mr Speaker, that is, the NRMA third-party insurance and the problems we had in this territory, not for months, but years. It went for years. Even today I doubt whether we could fill the void if the NRMA walked away from our third-party motor insurance.