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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2867 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

bit which I thought was close to humour, if not an outright belly-aching laughing matter. I see that there was a quite intense debate in the Estimates Committee about the matter of insurance. Members will recall this.

The committee was pressing the government to explain what it was doing to assist small businesses and community organisations which were facing steep increases in premiums, resulting in a serious question, or doubt, about their future viability, or capacity to deliver services to their area of the community. The government insisted that its measures had made a huge difference so far. The government pointed to the insurance hotline it had set up. The government also had to admit, under questioning, that it had not received very many calls, if any, to the hotline because the existence of the hotline had not been advertised.

In responding to the Estimates Committee recommendation that it should advertise the hotline, the government says that it has advertised the hotline very widely in the press. It then quotes the Canberra Times of 27 and 31 July, the Valley Voice of 2 August and the Canberra Chronicle of 13 August. That is four advertisements. That is, I suppose, pretty wide.

Mr Deputy Speaker, what is noticeable about this is that all of those advertisements appeared after the issue of the existence of the hotline was raised-and nobody knowing it was there. It was raised in the Estimates Committee in late July. Until that occurred, there was no advertising of the hotline.

It took that prompting-that pressure from the Estimates Committee-for the government to get off its backside and advertise the hotline it had set up. If you set up a hotline and do not bother to advertise it, then you really do have to wear the title "lazy" with some lack of comeback. How else do you explain the fact that the thing was set up and no-one knew it was there? The humour I am referring to is the response to the recommendation that the government should consider using part of its windfall gain from stamp duty on rising premiums, to establish some kind of scheme to assist those in the community who are experiencing problems.

The government, first of all, says there is no evidence to support the claim of a stamp duty windfall flowing from the increased costs of public liability insurance policies. The committee pointed to the fact that the amount of money collected in the 2001-02 financial year was larger than expected, on the budget estimates made before the beginning of that financial year.

The government response concedes that duty on general insurance revenue was $23.237 million last financial year, when the original forecast was for only $20.62 million. The increase in revenue was of the order of 12.7 per cent. That is a very significant increase. The government goes on to say that you cannot take that money as meaning anything significant, because some of that money is attributable to the sale of buildings formerly owned by the Commonwealth. It is not about public liability insurance premiums-it is really to do, somehow, with stamp duty premiums.

I am not quite sure how that works out. I am not sure how there is an insurance windfall because of the sale of a Commonwealth building. I will leave it to the Treasurer to try to explain how that works out. I think what he is saying-he might correct me if I am

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