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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3737 ..

Ministerial summits on insurance

Ministerial statement

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement in relation to insurance.

Leave granted.

MR QUINLAN: Mr Speaker, some months ago I reported to the Assembly on my attendance at two ministerial summits on insurance convened by the states and territories, and finally joined by the Commonwealth. These summits were convened in response to the public liability insurance crisis. Since then, as members will be aware, the crisis developed to encompass professional and some business groups. Two further summits have been held in the past month or so to consider a number of reports commissioned to examine the crisis and offer responses to governments. The most recent was held last Friday. Mr Speaker, I table the following papers relating to the summits of 2 October and 15 November this year:

Ministerial meeting on Public Liability Insurance-Sydney, 2 October 2002-

Ministerial statement, 19 November 2002.

Joint communique.

Members will see that there was significant general consensus arising from the 15 November summit in a number of key areas. Ministers agreed on a package of reforms implementing key recommendations of the Ipp report. Let me say that, while I refer to ministers agreeing, this was a majority agreement and not necessarily unanimous, which I might get to later. They agreed that the key Ipp recommendations that go to establishing liability should be implemented on a nationally consistent basis and each jurisdiction agreed to introduce necessary legislation as a matter of priority.

There was strong agreement on proportionate liability for economic loss, with some jurisdictions committed to implementing legislation and others, including the ACT, still, I think, holding back to ensure that there is adequate protection of the victims of any mishap that may arise out of professional or public negligence. Ministers agreed that a system of thresholds or scales for general damages, coupled with restrictions on legal costs, is an imperative and noted that most of the states are moving in this direction. Again, members should note that thresholds and caps are no more than restricting what a victim of a particular mishap might otherwise have received.

Since the advent of the crisis, the government has sponsored innovative strategies during the year designed to assist local community groups and small businesses. Some of those efforts and innovations by the government included sponsoring a number of changes, in an effort to assist the ACT community.

Before I elaborate on that, I would like to remind members-and I think the Chief Minister referred to this in his answer to a question-that the ACT is less than 2 per cent of the Australian public liability market, and Australia is around 2 per cent of the world insurance market. Many of the changes and restrictions within the public liability market

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