Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2033 ..
Insurance Compensation Framework Bill 2002[Cognate bills:
Legal Practitioners Amendment Bill 2002
Adventure Activities (Liability) Bill 2002]
MR SPEAKER: Can I remind members that this is a cognate debate and debate on the Insurance Compensation Framework Bill will be concurrent with orders of the day Nos 2 and 3.
MR STEFANIAK(4.02): I am amazed that Mr Quinlan is concerned about the very strong rehabilitation aspects of Mr Smyth's bills, because that is something that is very much stressed in the government response to Dr Anthony Dare's report on assistance for victims of crime in the ACT. That report stressed the absolute importance of rehabilitation and the fact that that is far more important than people just getting lump sum compensation. That is very much a thrust of Mr Smyth's bills, and it is borne out by this report. If it is good enough to compensate and rehabilitate victims who suffer injury and damage in this type of situation, why on earth is this such a bad thing when we come to discussing something as important as public liability insurance and all the ramifications of that?
The Treasurer raised a number of other points. He talked about the Legal Practitioners Act, which Mr Smyth's bill seeks to amend. I had a close look at that one, too. For about eight to 10 years now, solicitors have been able to advertise their services. Being a very conservative profession, they have usually been somewhat reluctant to do so, although more recently, and probably in about the last five years, there have been a number of advertisements in the press and, indeed, even on the radio.
Mr Smyth's bill does not stop solicitors engaging in no win, no fees. It merely bans the advertising thereof. Certainly, advertising and the proliferation of these types of services have contributed to the problem. But he does not attempt to ban it. There is nothing in his bill which would stop a solicitor telling a client, "Look, I am prepared in this instance to do a no win, no fee, and if we win, of course, I will charge you fees."The bill does not stop that-it merely controls the practice. Mr Quinlan should perhaps read that again because it is not correct to say that that is going to be banned.
Mr Speaker, the insurance crisis, which is not a simple matter, has been addressed by governments throughout the nation. I was looking forward to government bill No 2 being introduced a lot more quickly. Whilst there may well be several good points in it, I do not think it goes as far as perhaps it should. Quite clearly, from what I have been told, there seem to be some real problems in relation to the statute of limitations.
Admittedly, the Chief Minister says that this bill is not quite finalised yet, so it is a little bit hard to be definitive about something you have not seen. But I am concerned about comments in relation to other jurisdictions-knee-jerk reactions and the like. I think he does a disservice to his fellow Labor premiers and jurisdictions that suffer very similar problems to ours, and perhaps in some instances even more so. These bigger jurisdictions have tackled this as a real issue.