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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 21 August 2008) . . Page.. 3496 ..

improved health outcomes come into effect. Secondly, it would send the wrong message to insurers. Insurers have expressed great interest in coming to the ACT market since the principal act was passed. Discussions are at an advanced stage, particularly around establishing various industry implementation committees. To delay the commencement of the act beyond the time I have proposed would cause insurers to rethink their commitment to both the time line and in-principle participation.

Finally, if the scheme is delayed significantly it is quite probable that NRMA would seek to revisit its premiums. Presently the ACT is the only jurisdiction where premiums have fallen in the past financial year. Insurers do want to enter this market and to compete. They see certainty and a clear cost management pathway where before they saw 60-year-old law and no clear indication of cost management or controls.

Turning to Mr Stefaniak’s clause 5 amendment, as I indicated, the government opposes that amendment. It opposes the amendment not because it is unmindful of the issue Mr Stefaniak raises, but because it already has a strategy for dealing with it. The government received representations from lawyers about section 86 (2) of the act on the basis that delays in police reports might cause clients to lose the right to sue the nominal defendant. The government has been assured that police accident reports will be timely and provided guidance to the profession around that issue.

The department has also offered to recommend necessary amendments if the reports are not timely and the schedule proposed will not prejudice any nominal defendant claim under the new scheme. I understand the issue that Mr Stefaniak seeks to address. We do not believe it is an issue. We have sought specific assurances in relation to the issue that Mr Stefaniak raises. However, I will make that clear commitment that we will monitor this aspect of the legislation and if the sorts of concerns that Mr Stefaniak has raised come to pass we will not hesitate to respond to those. But our position on the basis of assurances we have is that there is not an issue.

There are, for instance, at present only 80 outstanding CTP claims against the nominal defendant in the ACT—just 80. Some of them date back almost as far as the establishment of self-government in the territory. There are few annual claims made against the nominal defendant and most recently an analysis of uninsured vehicles put the percentage at 0.29 per cent of registered vehicles.

We are well ahead of all other jurisdictions on account of the combined registration CTP system here. Thus the only issue at hand is that of delays in police reports. If that transpires, as I said, the government will take action. But on the basis of evidence, if the evidence is there it will manifest quickly and the necessary amendments will come immediately.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I know lawyers are not particularly happy with some aspects of this scheme. The fact is that it is necessary reform to contain costs, encourage competition and provide better health outcomes for accident victims. It is the obligation of every lawyer who represents a client in a compulsory statutory compensation scheme to shepherd their client towards recovery, to maximise their opportunity to engage treatment, rehabilitation and therapy and to protect their rights in relation to fair compensation for their injuries.

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