Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 17 February 2011) . . Page.. 250 ..
presented in the Assembly, most members would already have seen the earlier exposure draft of the bill which was made publicly available last year in early October. This followed the Treasurer’s decision to initiate a two-month consultation period which concluded at the end of November last year.
During the consultation period, the Department of Treasury met both jointly and separately with compulsory third-party scheme stakeholders and other interested parties. On behalf of the Treasurer I take this opportunity to remind members that the stakeholders in this scheme are the motorists and businesses who pay compulsory third-party premiums, the people who make claims under the scheme and, last but not least, the licensed insurers who actually underwrite the scheme. Others who participate, such as the lawyers and medical professionals, are simply service providers within the scheme.
Treasury has met with the ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the ACT Council of Social Service; representatives of the taxi industry; and NRMA Motoring and Services. On the part of the insurers, Treasury has met with the peak industry body—the Insurance Council of Australia—and the incumbent CTP insurer through its NRMA Insurance brand, Insurance Australia Group.
I hasten to add that the legal profession was also extensively consulted. On the defence—insurer—side of the aisle, Treasury met with lawyers from NRMA’s legal panel. On the plaintiff side, Treasury met with representatives of the Law Society of the ACT, the ACT Bar Association and the Australian Lawyers Alliance.
Briefings have also been provided to the opposition—Mrs Dunne, Mr Smyth and their advisers—and to the Greens—Ms Bresnan, Ms Hunter and their advisers. The government particularly thanks those members involved in that process and, indeed, yourself, Mr Speaker, for your interest.
The government has listened to all concerns raised and has adjusted some aspects of the bill. We have reduced the 20 per cent threshold on psychological impairment to 15 per cent, or more consistent with the physical impairment threshold. And we have removed the cap on non-economic loss or pain and suffering. However, so that the special interest groups who remain implacably opposed to these reforms will be in no doubt, I reiterate and declare now that the decision to introduce this bill today is a signal of this government’s strength of purpose on this issue. The reforms proposed by the bill are very necessary, and the government will not be deflected from pursuing them.
Compulsory statutory insurance, such as compulsory third party, is what is known as a grudge purchase. This is because its purchase is required by law in the public interest. Accordingly, someone paying the premium should have a reasonable expectation that those premium dollars will be spent for the purposes for which the scheme exists—in the case of CTP, helping injured motor crash victims return to health and, if seriously injured, helping them manage their injuries to secure the best possible future. Therefore, such schemes must provide robust and cost-effective pathways that enable them to run efficiently and produce the best possible outcomes for the lowest compulsory contribution. Best outcomes at best value.