Page 2549 - Week 07 - Thursday, 18 June 2009

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Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Road Transport (Third-Party Insurance) Amendment Bill 2009

Debate resumed from 2 April 2009, on motion by Ms Gallagher:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.47): The opposition will be supporting this bill. While the bill itself is rather long, at 52 pages, the subject matter is generally routine. I would like to thank the minister for arranging a very useful briefing on this bill.

This bill follows the significant changes that the Assembly made to the territory’s compulsory third-party—CTP, as it is known—insurance scheme last year. I will come back to that in a minute.

This bill will make a number of technical amendments to the scheme. It will finetune the CTP scheme prior to the new regime commencing soon. These amendments include bringing traders plates and unregistered vehicle permits into the scheme; repealing the definition of “owner”; repealing a strict liability offence in relation to the selling of certain premiums; making it quite clear that there will not be any legal fees applicable to claims that are settled for amounts at or below $30,000; incorporating the new ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal into the regime; and transferring certain regulations relating to public passenger services. Each of these amendments is relatively straightforward in principle, even if it does take 50 pages to achieve the desired outcome.

I will make a brief comment in relation to the matter of legal fees. A major criticism of the consideration of CTP claims has been the extent of fees that have been incurred in dealing with these claims, particularly applied to legal fees. The new CTP scheme will remove much of the concern about legal fees. As can be seen in these amendments, there will be no legal fees for claims that are settled prior to litigation for amounts that are $30,000 or less. Expert advice is that this would apply to 99 per cent of claims. I understand that lawyers are not particularly enamoured of this provision; nevertheless I favour the approach. It will achieve national consistency and will assist people who have relatively small claims.

I will return to the new CTP scheme for a few comments. I understand that preparations for the new CTP scheme are going well. Apparently the software that will support the new scheme is being tested right now and all should be ready for a start in a few weeks. I would like to commend all those who have been involved in the development of this new scheme, as it has been quite a complex process. The really interesting question will be as to whether we see any competitors to the NRMA, which currently provides the CTP service in the ACT, line up to operate in the ACT CTP insurance market.

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