Government shelves green slip insurance reform

September 4, 2013

June 19, 2013

by Anna Patty. State Political Reporter. Sydney Morning Herald. June 19, 2013.

Controversial changes to the green slip insurance scheme have been shelved after the NSW government admitted it does not have the support it needs to pass the legislation.

Acting Finance Minister Andrew Constance said the government will hold further discussions with stakeholders and community representatives to try to resolve concerns about its proposed changes to the compulsory third-party insurance scheme.

Mr Constance said the current CTP scheme “puts enormous strain on injured people” and the government was committed to introducing a scheme that was more affordable and fairer for those injured in accidents.

Lawyers have raised concerns about how benefits for injured motorists would be slashed under the new scheme, which the government has said would lower the price of green slip insurance premiums.

Mr Constance, who has stepped in to replace Finance Minister Greg Pearce, who has taken a month off on stress leave, said the government does not have the numbers in the Legislative Council to proceed with the legislation.

He said the government needs to do more work to discuss the reform with the community and it is expected the bill will be debated in the upper house in late August.

Mr Constance said much work had been done to review the compulsory third-party insurance scheme.

“However I am conscious that people do not have the full information before them and I want to take action to address this where possible,” Mr Constance said.

“The NSW government has listened to community concerns and is keen to adopt a process to further consult with stakeholders.

“We will take the next six weeks to communicate and further consult on stakeholder issues and at the same time work with crossbench MPs.

“We will facilitate further discussion by holding a CTP roundtable involving relevant players including accident victims, insurers, lawyers, community and business leaders.

“The bill will be further consulted on as part of this process and a position paper will be released prior to the roundtable.”

Mr Constance said the government remains committed to introducing a scheme that is more affordable for motorists and fairer for people injured in accidents.

“The current CTP scheme puts enormous strain on injured people and we’re determined to bring certainty to motor accident victims, many of whom face years awaiting settlement,” Mr Constance said.

“Our reforms are designed to shorten the time for payments to be made and remove points of friction and dispute.

“The NSW government is committed to placing downward pressure on green slip prices given that our state has the highest premiums in the country. Our reforms are designed to achieve that goal.”

Opposition spokesman for finance Michael Daley said the government had planned to push the laws through the Legislative Council this week.

Mr Daley said Liberal Party lobbyist Michael Photios, who represents major insurance companies, set up meetings between Mr Pearce’s office and the insurance industry who are set to benefit from the laws.

“Greg Pearce’s legislation was always designed to benefit the insurance industry at the expense of motorists and their families in NSW,” Mr Daley said.

“The O’Farrell government’s legislative agenda has completely fallen over now that Finance Minister Greg Pearce is not around to help push this appalling law through the NSW Legislative Council.

“Quite rightly, the acting Minister for Finance and current Minister for Disabilities doesn’t want his hands all over a law that will slash medical entitlements for children severely injured in car accidents after five years.

“This is one of the worst pieces of legislation introduced into the NSW Parliament by the O’Farrell government, second only to huge cuts to workers’ compensation protections – another special from Mr Pearce.”

Greens MP David Shoebridge said the government’s back down was “a significant victory for everyone in NSW who faces loss and injury from a motor accident”.

”The government’s proposed scheme slashed benefits and promised only a very modest reduction in green slip pricing,” he said.

”However, there remain concerns the government will spend the winter recess negotiating with the Shooters Party over hunting to gain their support for an amended bill when Parliament resumes.”

President of the Law Society of NSW, John Dobson welcome the government announcement on Wednesday that there will be further community consultation on the proposed green slip reforms.

“This is a good day for the people of NSW, who are all affected by this bill,” Mr Dobson said.

“We now want to assist government to deliver a motor accident compensation scheme that is fair and sustainable, and which protects the most vulnerable members of our community.

“There is room for improvement in the current scheme, but we believe this can be done without the unfairness of the government’s current overhaul.”

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