Page 4168 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 October 1991

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Discussion of Matter of Public Importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received letters from Mr Collaery, Mr Jensen and Dr Kinloch proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Dr Kinloch be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The failure of the Follett Government to consult properly with the people of the ACT on the recovery and disbursement of the excess premium payments approved by the National Roads and Motorists Association.

DR KINLOCH (3.16): The facts on this matter of public importance are simply these: We put it in yesterday; Mr Stevenson won the ballot yesterday; we put it in again today in the normal process of business; and here we are. These matters of public importance are traditionally couched in terms which attack the government of the day. If we were not saddled with this inappropriate albatross of a system which puts government against opposition, I would prefer to couch this MPI in different terms from those stated on the paper. I accept that the actual terms are as they appear on the paper; but I would prefer, if we had a better overall system of government, to say, "Our failure" - that is, the failure of all of us, in every party group, Labor, Liberal, Residents Rally, everybody - "to consult properly vis-a-vis the excess premium payments which have been accumulated by the NRMA".

I especially commend Mr Collaery for helping all of us to face up to this matter, which I understand has been on a number of agendas for a long time. But, given that it is the present Government that has the responsibility for this, I now ask the Government not to keep this matter behind closed doors, but to share with us in planning how most effectively to use whatever funds we are able to gather from the NRMA. I ask that the Government keep in touch with all of us in this matter, not only about the recovery of funds but also about their disbursement. My particular responsibility here, and the matter that I want to concentrate on, concerns the latter question; that is, the disbursement.

Before doing so, let me stress that we are not in the business of castigating or criticising the NRMA. Indeed, I want to thank the representatives of the NRMA, especially Mr Burnside, for their help to me in this matter. Rather, we should congratulate the NRMA on being able to accumulate this huge surplus amount. We should be grateful for a situation which has improved very dramatically. Apparently, in years past, for every 100 premiums there was one claim. Now we are down to 0.5 per 100. That is part of the background of the situation we are in. I leave that matter to others.

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