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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2875 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

earnings forecast for the rest of 2003. QBE said it had increased its net profit growth target to more than 75 per cent for the year ending December 31, up from the 50 per cent rise it had forecast...The insurer reported a net profit of $241 million for the six months...compared with $115 million last year. QBE attributed the result to increases in premium rates across the world and customer retention. "These factors, together with further premium rate increases, albeit at a much lower rate, and acquisition initiatives, give us confidence that we will achieve around 10 per cent growth in...2004."

When we talk about insurance, insurance reform and tort law reform, we do need to understand the nature of the industry we are dealing with-incompetent, greedy, grasping and without compunction. We do need to know when we are talking around tort law reform and reforms to these markets that that is the industry we are dealing with. Of course, many of the companies are completely incompetent-HIH, FAI, UMP-and greedy, a dangerous combination.

That dangerous combination, incompetence and greed, is what we are dealing with and what we are faced with. Everybody in this place needs to understand that. We have here a mob of companies that have gone broke through incompetence and thrown the market into disarray. The greed of those that have survived is, in some senses, bringing the country to its knees. I often sit back and reflect on what has become of us, what we have allowed this industry to do to us, what we have descended to as a result of the actions of this industry and the implications of their incompetence and their grasping greed.

We are seeking to deal with that. We are dealing with it at this stage through the Civil Law (Wrongs) Amendment Bill 2003, which addresses legal issues arising, as I say, from this crisis and which does aim to improve the ACT civil justice system by reforming tort law. The bill contains a number of reforms from the Ipp and Neave reviews and some new reforms developed by the territory. As members would be aware, the bill also contains measures relating to medical negligence as a result of the recent medical insurance crisis. We are beset by crises.

The government's position in developing the bill was that the reforms should not exclude genuine plaintiffs from exercising their rights. Rather, the bill includes reforms to promote efficiency in case processing and management and in pretrial procedures to assist in the settlement of cases before they get to court. The bill adopts various measures-I will go through those for members-that will have a positive impact on civil procedures and access to justice, with a view to quicker and cheaper resolution of disputes.

That is the philosophy that has underpinned this government's response to these issues. It is one that is aimed genuinely at seeking to address issues around the cost of action, the cost of pursuing negligence claims, with a view to ensuring that there is absolutely no capacity for the insurance companies to claim that they need to continually jack up their premiums to stay in business.

I have to say that that this bill is an excellent bill. I commend the work of officers of JACS and Treasury for the innovative reform contained within this package. I think it is at the cutting edge of tort law reform in Australia. It is a credit, essentially, to Mr Quinton and Mr McDonald. It is cutting edge legislation and I commend them for

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