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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1772 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Mr Speaker, other outcomes of the summit underscore the benefits of the hard work the ACT government has done in relation to these summits. The ACT proposed that more direct, relevant action be taken nationally in respect of the long-term care of catastrophically-injured people. This has been taken up.

The ACT expressed concern that the benefits of proposed tort law reform could not be guaranteed for consumers because the ACCC lacked sufficient enforcement authority. The Commonwealth has now agreed that, if necessary, it will review the extent of the ACCC's powers, including more formal processes, if it becomes clear that cost savings are not passed on to consumers.

On the other hand, when pressed, representatives of the insurance industry who were present at part of the summit sounded an ominous note for the territory. Previously we have enjoyed some of the benefits of smallness and anonymity-representing, as we do, less than 2 per cent of the Australian public liability insurance market. This will no longer be the case.

Insurance industry representatives gave ministers a very clear message: if national consistency and tort reform is not achieved, the industry will price its products according to the tort and damage risk profile represented by particular jurisdictions, in addition to the individual risk presented by policyholders.

The ACT is now very well served in the area of individual insurance risk. This was the area on which the industry began to focus, once it became clear that its widespread denial of public liability cover to community organisations was unacceptable. Members will be well aware that some organisations with excellent claims histories were being denied insurance. The record-the top of the wazza-my department advises, is an organisation, after 27 years of insurance without a claim, being denied a renewal last year. This situation has to be, and is being, addressed.

As a result of measures I announced last year in relation to risk awareness and management, coupled with the government's tort law reform road map, the Community Care Underwriting Agency introduced the group scheme in the territory. Now, organisations with good insurance records qualify for consideration under the group scheme.

To date, Mr Speaker, the territory has succeeded in avoiding wholesale adoption of the New South Wales style of tort reform, and we are philosophically opposed to the draconian action that amounts to wholesale disenfranchisement of claimants. However, there is a national consensus emerging in respect of tort reform. There are a number of core elements that will need to be enacted in accordance with the national consensus.

Consequently, the government will introduce legislation containing stage 2 of its tort law reform package. In addition to measures previously announced by the Chief Minister and myself, stage 2 will pick up the additional Ipp report recommendations that meet efficiency and claims cost savings criteria.

Accordingly, the stage 2 provisions will focus on areas of procedural tort law in the ACT that are amenable to being made more economically efficient. In addition, the

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