Page 3494 - Week 09 - Thursday, 21 August 2008

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Road Transport (Third-Party Insurance) Amendment Bill 2008

Debate resumed from 20 August 2008, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts) (5.15): Have you introduced this bill, Mr Stefaniak?

Mr Stefaniak: I introduced it yesterday.

MR STANHOPE: I beg your pardon, Mr Deputy Speaker. I must say that I had missed the fact that Mr Stefaniak actually had presented the bill. Mr Stefaniak and I have cooperated on a number of matters in the past and this is a similar occasion. I find myself in partial agreement with Mr Stefaniak today with respect to the delay in commencement of the Road Transport (Third-Party Insurance) Act, and I am pleased to advise the Assembly that the second of Mr Stefaniak’s concerns relating to the nominal defendant are being dealt with by the Treasury which, in our opinion, obviates the need for Mr Stefaniak’s amendment at this time.

Accordingly, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will move an amendment to Mr Stefaniak’s Road Transport (Third-Party Insurance) Amendment Bill which will amend clause 4 of Mr Stefaniak’s bill to substitute the words “1 October 2008” for “1 March 2009” currently appearing. The government will oppose clause 5 of Mr Stefaniak’s bill.

Mr Deputy Speaker, let me reiterate to the Assembly the record of the government in matters of law reform, particularly our compassion for and commitment to the rights of ACT citizens. My government has led the country in the protection of claimants’ rights since it was first elected. The government has provided claimants with the most comprehensive protection of their rights to seek personal injury redress in the face of derision and threats from the insurance industry and others during the insurance crisis.

The Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 was and remains the most humane version of tort reform adopted by any jurisdiction in Australia. We have never embraced easy solutions such as injury thresholds, damages caps or similar restrictions on access to justice. The Human Rights Act 2004 and recent amendments to it represent the most comprehensive set of individual rights protection in the nation. The new CTP scheme maintains those principles. There are no thresholds or caps. However, it is a compulsory, statutory compensation scheme and not the unfettered gateway to the common law that the previous scheme was.

A modern fault-based CTP scheme must be regulated prudently and managed efficiently. Accordingly, the rights of motor vehicle accident victims to better health outcomes are paramount. As I have said publicly on a number of occasions, the new CTP scheme is designed to achieve three main aims: choice of insurer by ACT citizens, improved health outcomes for motor accident victims and lower costs through greater scheme efficiency. These aims will be assisted by implementing procedural and regulatory changes provided in the principal act and the road transport (third party insurance) regulation 2008 that were finalised earlier this week.

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