Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 February 2008) . . Page.. 33 ..
third-party insurance. It may require a little bit of tweaking and it is possibly quite difficult to say at this time whether 28 days is appropriate or whether 120 days is too long or whether 60 days might be better. For that reason, while I support the amendment because it does lengthen the time, it is really important to have the review to determine the right amount.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (12.19): Just to follow up what Dr Foskey has said, the Chief Minister has already said to me that it is the sort of thing that should be looked at in the review clause, should it be passed later in this debate. But I have to say that, while it might be with good intention, the amendment may well go down as the lawyers’ amendment. The lawyers have said to me exactly the same thing. They need 128 days because they have got to get it right, they have got to process it—blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
That is the problem with the existing case. There is no urgency to get to rehabilitation. This amendment proposes that an individual must wait for up to four months before truly starting rehabilitation and getting the payment for it. That means that for four months the individual carries the burden of the payments, and they can be quite substantial if the individual is going to physiotherapy and occupational therapists on a regular basis or the individual might actually wait for 120 days to commence treatment because of an inability to pay up-front.
Rehabilitation needs to start as quickly as we can get it. The officials advise me that the accident report is not particularly onerous. It is done online and it can be done quite quickly. If we are serious about rehabilitation as the number one priority for anyone who has suffered the agony of a motor vehicle accident, then 28 days is not, in fact, unreasonable at all. The evidence from New South Wales and Queensland would suggest that it has worked, that it is entirely appropriate and that most people there do not seem to have any difficulty at all in coping with the 28-day period.
So in the spirit of what the Chief Minister is trying to do here, let us get the rehabilitation commencing as quickly as possible. If you have a damaged knee or a damaged ankle or a damaged back, to wait potentially for four months before you undertake physio, occupational therapy or other treatments is stupid. It actually goes against the whole grain of what is being attempted here in the bill. We will be voting against the amendment.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (12.22): I have a few comments in relation to matters raised. I sense from the Chief Minister that the sentiment is with what I am putting forward but that it is not an amendment that he is willing to embrace at this stage. I think Mr Smyth has completely missed the point. The amendment does not propose that you have to wait for four months. The only relevance to the lawyers is that they have to get an opinion from the Law Society about the problems of getting medical certificates. You can call it the doctor’s amendment, if you like. The fact of the matter is that insurance does not move with speed.
I mentioned earlier in this discussion that I had my Assembly vehicle broken into on 24 January. Nearly one month later, for a minor matter—a broken window and half a dozen items stolen—they still have not got the claim out of the starting blocks because they desperately want receipts for everything purchased. They are confused