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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 February 2008) . . Page.. 16 ..


It appears from the bill that this amount cannot be recovered by the insurer if the insurer later wins the claim. Again, I worry that this could create a perverse incentive for unmeritorious claims. But I am assured that this will be dealt with to some extent by requiring the payment to be made directly to doctors or to the claimant only to reimburse medical costs rather than simply giving them the money directly. Those precautions, which have been advised to me by Treasury, are sensible.

The early payment is currently available only if the claimant lodges a claim with the insurer within 28 days. I do not personally think that this length of time is sufficient for many claimants who will not have any knowledge of insurance law and may need more time to obtain a medical report. As a consequence, I will be moving an amendment—which I have tabled for circulation—to allow 120 days for lodgement of this claim.

I will address that issue later, but I want to mention that I have just been through a minor insurance claim from a break-in to my car. That happened on 24 January and I am still toing and froing on paperwork to try to get that matter processed. So even on a minor level, with a claim of that nature, the period has now turned into almost one month. When you have such serious things as physical injury requiring access to doctors, especially if it happens in the summer period, for example, I think it is ambitious to expect lodgement in 28 days. I know there are medical arguments that might be advanced for that early treatment, but I think that we have to temper it with reality. I have taken advice on that from the legal profession.

Although this bill is a step in the right direction, there are issues with government involvement in compulsory third-party insurance across Australia. I believe that there are opportunities for serious reform of these laws in the future. I hope that other members of this Assembly do not see this bill as a panacea to the ills of the CTP insurance industry. It is a difficult problem that needs a careful, considered solution. Although this is a step in the right direction, it is not that final, carefully considered solution, in my view.

My experience with this bill has been that it has been somewhat hastily prepared. A deal of material has been lifted from other jurisdictions. I do not believe that the matter has had the level of scrutiny by the territory government that it may have warranted. In my first briefing on this bill at the end of November, my staff and I identified a number of concerns, including a drafting error in quite an important section of the bill which had apparently gone unnoticed by the government. This error would have had the effect of preventing the government from issuing any CTP insurance licences to any insurer who could properly exercise the functions of a licensed insurer. In my second briefing on the bill last week, I found that the government still had not amended this error, so I foreshadowed an amendment to address this. That has now been circulated, although I understand that the government now concurs with our view on the need for the section to be amended.

Whilst this bill gives insurers some breathing room and gives them greater certainty about claims processes, the New South Wales regime which the bill seeks to emulate is not in itself a solution to CTP problems or a model for an ideal CTP system. The current ACT system needs significant changes. The bill before us today is a tentative


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