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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2874 ..

Mr Quinlan: We should do something urgently about that.

MR CORNWELL: I agree, Mr Treasurer, and that is why I am asking you the question. But it appears to me, if my reading of that so-called highlight is accurate, that a strategic review of the school is to be considered. Mr Treasurer, you might like to confirm whether you have received the fourth and final report. It was due in February 2002-it is now August. I would simply remind you that the findings of the Auditor-General's report No 11 of 2001, which is only last year, stated:

The AIHS is not likely to be profitable in the short or medium term. There can be little expectancy of longer term profitability.

Secondly, the Auditor-General said:

The ability of the AIHS to continue as a going concern depends solely on government support.

I think something like $50 million of ACT funds has been put into this school already. I think it is time that this Assembly, at least, bit the bullet on the matter and let us see if we can sort something out to overcome this drain upon the territory budget. I look forward to your response in due course.

MS DUNDAS (5.52): At the tabling of the Estimates Committee report I mentioned my concerns regarding Totalcare and the possible use of taxpayer money by Totalcare to prop up private industry and New South Wales private hospital ventures. I also made clear my opposition to full retail contestability of electricity as I believe this will lead to high utilities bills for families and individuals while providing cheaper bills for businesses and the high-end users of electricity. It appears that Mr Cornwell has taken up my theme on those issues.

Let me turn to insurance. This department has taken in all the extra money in stamp duty due to increased insurance and increased real estate prices. We should look to see what has been done to address the insurance crisis and the high price of real estate. The evidence is overwhelming that the cause of the insurance crisis lies with the insurance industry rather than the legal system. Within the insurance industry the drive for greater shareholder profit has overridden any social responsibility to the community.

Every charitable organisation or small business owner that I have spoken to says that they have never made a claim against public liability and yet the insurance premium continues to rise to astronomical levels. I have advocated that structural reforms, such as insurance pools, are the best long-term solution for bringing down premium prices. This is recognised by both the Victorian government and the Australian Local Government Association as the best form of insurance reform to deliver immediate savings. Instead, the ACT government has endorsed group buying arrangements. But given the small number of insurers left in the market, and their reluctance to negotiate bulk discounts, any saving would be short lived as insurance companies strive for even greater profits.

So far the reforms of exempting some sporting teams from duty and starting up an insurance hotline to find out whether businesses or organisations are exempt have amounted to nothing and play into the hands of big insurance companies as even fewer

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