Page 1311 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008
Mr Stefaniak: It has been.
MR STANHOPE: It has not been agitated yet. I understand that there are now discussions between the solicitor retained by the potential claimant, and I am advised—I am going on advice I received today—that the NRMA is now in discussions with the claimant through her solicitors. In that particular circumstance, it would be appropriate for the ACT government to await the outcome of discussions which the Treasury has been advised today are now being pursued by the NRMA with the claimant through her solicitor before the ACT government actually fixes on any potential or future way forward in relation to this matter.
MR STEFANIAK: Thank you, Chief Minister. Before I ask my supplementary, I am advised that there certainly have been discussions between the NRMA and Shirley and legal advisers. Nothing whatsoever is advancing there. I ask you, and it might be relevant also to the Attorney-General in terms of ex gratia payments: in the meantime, are there any other steps that you can take or will take to alleviate the suffering and financial burden that this courageous lady and possibly others in our community are enduring in matters of this nature? Her courageous actions potentially saved other lives. It seems to me to be a one-off. It seems to be something where she should not have to bear the financial cost of her injuries.
MR STANHOPE: Cases of this nature, of course, present particular difficulties to governments. The ACT operates a fault-based CTP scheme. At this stage, we do not anticipate or propose to move away from that scheme. To the extent that this matter is currently being negotiated or agitated between the claimant, through her solicitor, and the NRMA, the insurance company, it would be pre-emptive in the extreme for me—
Mrs Dunne: You could come to an agreement with a 70-year-old widow.
MR STANHOPE: This is quite remarkable. Mrs Dunne interjects that the claim should be settled forthwith.
MR SPEAKER: Take no notice.
MR STANHOPE: It is a remarkable position for anybody to put in relation to an insurance claim. I am advised today, in good faith, the NRMA is negotiating with the claimant’s solicitor. The Liberal Party interject, “Just settle it. Do not worry about that.” What attitude is this to adopt in relation to the broad sweep of claims that are made by individuals on insurance companies on any day of the week? The ACT government should intercede before any insurance claim is brought to finality?
I am advised today, in good faith, by the Treasury that the NRMA is negotiating in good faith with the claimant’s solicitor. I would have thought the appropriate thing for the government to do would be to allow those negotiations to run their course and, if the matter is not settled by the insurer, then of course the ACT would give sympathetic consideration to any case that might be put in that circumstance.
But at this stage it would be remarkable to suggest that the government should intervene in an insurance matter that is currently being negotiated in good faith. As