Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 March 2009) . . Page.. 1162 ..
then would levy approved insurers to recover moneys paid out to injured workers. The initial amendment carried a sunset clause of 1 October 2004 for acts of terrorism occurring before 1 April 2004. Later, this was extended to October 2009 for acts occurring before April 2009.
The bill we are considering today would further extend the current sunset clause to October 2012 for acts of terrorism occurring before 1 April 2012. Importantly, Mr Speaker, this bill provides the means for employers to continue to secure cover for employees injured in an act of terrorism. The safety and security of employees must surely be the prime consideration for all employers. It is of equal consideration for governments. This provides a safety net in a world of uncertainty and instability. The bill also gives the insurance industry some further time to determine further insurance strategies, again in the current climate of uncertainty and instability.
Finally, this bill pulls to the top of the mind the need for the government, on a regular basis, to reconsider the risks involved in an environment of uncertainty and instability. However, the question is whether, after seven years of extending sunset clauses, we are now in a situation where this policy has become entrenched. We seem to be saying that we are unable to devise a solution to the problem and that the insurance industry has not changed its position in relation to the risk of terrorism occurring. Mr Corbell, the then Minister for Industrial Relations, said in his tabling speech in 2002:
Whilst the solution offered in the bill provides the certainty needed by insurers to continue to operate, it is not as effective a solution as the return to the market of private reinsurers. To encourage the return of reinsurers to the market, the bill has been given a finite life.
Mr Corbell went on to say:
The two-year period provided for in the bill will give the territory’s approved insurers and their reinsurers time to reassess the real risks they face and return to the market an effective and financially viable product for the territory. During this period the government itself will monitor the relative positions of the approved insurers and the reinsurance market.
Well, Mr Speaker, two years came and went, followed by another two, and now we are seeking a further extension. In that time has the government or the industry considered or reached a solution? Clearly, they have not. Indeed, it was a former member and colleague, Mr Pratt, who flagged the potential for the government’s complacency that seems to have come to fruition through this bill. Mr Pratt said in the debate in 2002:
We recognise that the proposal is based on a sunset clause of two years. We are not inclined to see the provisions extended beyond two years. We would therefore pretty much demand that, as we approach the setting of the sun, we undertake a full review of the provisions. We would continue to support what measures the government may then wish to put in place, provided that we review in detail the progress and workings of that vehicle.
Mr Speaker, it is time to pursue this matter in more detail, so the Minister for Industrial Relations may care to take on notice that I will be asking him and pursuing