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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 3297 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

If insurance did not perform such a fundamental role in providing a framework for protection and compensation in our society, it would not be such an issue. The workers compensation scheme introduced last year was the first step in this direction, while this bill carries it further. It will be fascinating to see the real arithmetic of the insurance industry in the ACT.

Finally, certain outmoded common law actions and rules are abolished. Their abolition is certainly due.

MR STEFANIAK (12.02): Mr Speaker, the opposition will be supporting this bill. I have one amendment, and there are other amendments. I will comment on them at the detail stage. But we do have a number of reservations, and it will be very interesting to see how the legislation pans out in principle.

The Chief Minister, in trumpeting this bill, told us that Australian insurers are in turmoil and that companies have disappeared or collapsed. That is true. He said that products have been withdrawn or increased in price. That is certainly so. Only yesterday the owner of a tavern complained to me about an excessive increase in insurance and some inconsistencies in what he has to pay for an outside entertainment area. The Chief Minister also said:

Every business, every community group and every family have been touched. Some have been hit hard.

Explanations from Australian insurers have been unimpressive.

Yes, that is all true. But I wonder whether this bill is going to hit the spot and reduce that. In some areas I think it will be of assistance but in other areas it will not.

This bill changes and codifies a number of areas of the civil law. It creates a framework for the existing law of torts. I note with some satisfaction protection for good samaritans, although not as much as I would like to see. The Chief Minister went through the story of the good samaritan. He said that modern law really does extend scant protection to a good samaritan's actions. Under current law a good samaritan could be exposed to any number of actions, including action for damage from an adverse reaction to the wine, for damage to clothing from oil, for injuries occasioned as a result of being on the donkey, for problems that might have arisen from failure to provide sufficient lodgings and from negligent misstatement or from problems with the laws dealing with innkeepers. It is very sad that good samaritans could be reluctant to act because they could be sued. This bill goes some way to ensuring that good samaritans who act in good faith and who do not act recklessly are offered some protection.

That may not extend to community organisations. There might be some problems there. That is something we will be looking at closely. Many community organisations are small. Community organisations have been hit particularly hard by the insurance crisis. We have seen problems with some of the riding schools, for example. The riding school at Mugga Park has ceased operating. The equestrian centre is ceasing operations. Sporting groups have been hard hit by the insurance crisis. Some are at a loss as to whether they can carry on. I will be interested to see how this law, which will be passed

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