Page 939 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 April 2014

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premium under the Road Transport (Third-Party Insurance) Act 2008, with the levy to be collected on behalf of the scheme by Road User Services at the time of registration.

In short, this bill seeks to establish a lifetime care and support scheme, consistent with nationally agreed minimum benchmarks for the NDIS, for people injured in motor accidents. This scheme is intended to be a no-fault scheme that will provide universal cover to individuals who are catastrophically injured in a motor vehicle crash in the ACT. I have—and I know others have—asked for this to happen in the past in various reports, and I think it is odd that we only finally get to this because the NDIS is coming.

We have been in consultation with key stakeholders. We understand that the ACT government has had considerable discussion with the New South Wales government and that really this is a plan to tack the ACT scheme onto the New South Wales scheme. What was interesting to note, though, was that the Treasurer went on the public record on 24 February this year in the Canberra Times announcing that the Chief Minister had struck a deal with the New South Wales Premier:

“The deal struck between the Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, and the New South Wales Premier, Barry O'Farrell, was for the ACT to pay its own way under the scheme. We are not subsidising them and they are not subsidising us,” he said.

This will require some clarification. I am not sure—and I have not been able to find out—what deal has been struck. I think the Treasurer, through his own officials, in the briefing that we received, said that there is currently no formal agreement between the ACT and New South Wales. In fact, I am told there is yet to be a formal signoff from the New South Wales government. I asked the officials, “If that is the case, what would happen then?” They said, “We would have to run the scheme in the ACT ourselves until such time as that happens.” So I am not sure what scheme or what deal the Treasurer was referring to in the Canberra Times on the 24th, but it would be worth some clarification, given that his officials clearly do not know of it.

We have also had consultation with others in the sector regarding this bill, and much of the feedback we received called for using the New South Wales experience and then improving on it. I have a number of amendments which have been circulated and we will get to those through the course of the detail stage.

Firstly, there were calls from various groups that there be an ability to opt out of the scheme. This was confirmed by the scrutiny of bills committee who brought up as a potential issue the inability for injured people to choose to sue for damages, as opposed to participating in the LTCS scheme.

Secondly, we note that the bill does not allow LTCS participants to receive gratuitous services from family and friends. This is odd. If you have a loved one who is injured and a member of the scheme and you stay home and care for them, a family member or friend, there is no payment. So if you give up your job and you stay at home, there is no cost, apparently. But if you go to work, the government will then pay for, potentially, a full-time carer. I think that is a flaw. Sometimes the best care can be provided by loved ones and those that know the injured person. I think there should be consideration given to that, and I have amendments to that.

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