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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 557 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Since that time there have been attempts to have a meeting of the Commonwealth, the states and the territories or to have this matter addressed at the upcoming meeting of treasurers on 15 March. The federal government, at this point, has refused. The federal Treasurer does not want to talk about insurance. He is prepared to talk about the problem of insurance some time in late May after the delivery of the federal budget and some time in late May after the delivery of most state and territory budgets.

There seems to be a propensity on the part of the Commonwealth to give some advice-and then withdraw it, of course-but not to involve itself. This is a national problem, and we will be persisting in our efforts to get a meeting. I understand that, as of today, there may be a meeting on 27 March at least between Senator Coonan-I do not know what power she might have to make decisions on behalf of the government-and the state treasurers.

MS GALLAGHER: Can the Treasurer inform the Assembly what the position of the ACT government will be at the ministerial meeting in March?

MR QUINLAN: Expert and not-so-expert commentary is now emerging that challenges the conclusion that skyrocketing premiums are purely a blow-out at the level of payments because of a couple of high-profile insurance company failures. On behalf of the ACT this government will be asking for a national audit to ensure that there has been neither overreaction nor profiteering, in light of the current atmosphere, by the insurance industry in relation to the rapidly increasing premiums, which would seem in many cases to have gone up in orders of magnitude more than the payments that are recorded.

We will occasionally see some high profile court case and some high profile determination given a couple of days publicity, but in general the ratio of pay-outs to premiums paid has not changed to the same degree as the ratio of current premiums to past premiums.

We will be looking for a national review of the insurance industry, and we will be looking for the involvement of that industry and the Insurance Council of Australia in that process. They do have a responsibility to inform the community; the silence from the Insurance Council has been disturbing and very disappointing. I hope that, somewhere along the line, the Liberal Commonwealth government decides to take a bit more interest in a subject that is having such a wide-ranging negative effect on the community.

School retention rates

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr Corbell, in his capacity as minister for education. The recent Australian Bureau of Statistics report on school retention rates indicates that ACT school retention rates for the year 2001 have dramatically jumped-by as much as seven percentage points. During the last election campaign, Minister, your party stated in its platform that it would "also address the problems faced by secondary schools and the reasons for the decline in retention rates under the present government".

Will you now concede that there was no decline in retention rates and that you misled the community in the lead-up to the last election?

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