Page 1310 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008

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medical treatment. New South Wales changed its third party compensation law on 1 October last year to specifically provide compensation eligibility in blameless accidents. Indeed, had this accident occurred in New South Wales, Shirley would be eligible. Treasurer, what is your government doing to review the ACT’s third party compensation laws to bring them into line with New South Wales, and when will this occur?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mr Stefaniak, and I acknowledge that Mr Stefaniak did tell me that he would be asking a question on this issue today. Mr Stefaniak, I am very aware of the issues facing this particular constituent. Of course, I am very sympathetic to her particular circumstances and have enormous sympathy for the injury and pain that she has suffered in addition to her loss.

This is a difficult area of the law. I have taken some advice as a result of your indication to me that you would ask about the issue today. I am advised, as you indicated, that the issue at the heart of the NRMA’s consideration of this matter—that is, the insurer—is that, quite simply, the ACT has a fault-based insurance or CTP scheme. Payment of any claim under the ACT CTP arrangements depends on the establishment of fault. The law, of course, has long settled on a definition of “fault” in relation most particularly to motor vehicle accidents, and there is a prima facie issue around fault in relation to this particular case.

In this case, however, I am advised today that the provisions in the current New South Wales legislation would, in fact, not have produced a different result or outcome, and the law in relation to the controlling of a vehicle and the words determining fault are exactly the same in both New South Wales and the ACT. The provisions to which you refer are only designed to apply if the victim has no control over the vehicle.

I am also advised that the New South Wales provisions must be read in conjunction with additional new provisions that permit victims of blameless accidents—this is the aspect of the New South Wales legislation that I believe Mr Stefaniak may be referring to—to receive benefits under the new lifetime care—

Mr Stefaniak: I sent you a copy of it—page 6.

MR STANHOPE: Yes, so they are different from the CTP arrangements. There are arrangements that have been entered into in New South Wales that permit victims of blameless accidents to receive benefits under a new lifetime care, no-fault scheme for catastrophically injured motor accident victims. The provisions that Mr Stefaniak has raised are part of the new mechanism that facilitates claims by catastrophically injured children and adults who would otherwise not be able to access the new no-fault scheme.

I am also advised today that the NRMA, having been contacted by Treasury as a result of Mr Stefaniak’s indication to me that he would ask about this matter today, has advised ACT Treasury today that it has not refused to pay out the claim in this matter but, rather, due to the complexities that have been raised by the case, most particularly as a result of the fact that the ACT has a fault-based scheme, that the NRMA has, indeed, suggested to the potential claimant that the matter should be agitated with them through a solicitor, if the claimant was able.

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