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Friday, 14 December 2018

Law Society calls on ACT Liberals and ACT Greens to oppose Government’s unfair proposals

Hundreds of injured Canberrans will lose their rights to full compensation if the Barr Government gets its way and cuts the ACT’s CTP scheme, warned the President of the ACT Law Society, Chris Donohue.

Mr Donohue was commenting following the release of a split report enquiring into the Government’s preferred scheme.

The Government’s preferred scheme represents a windfall gain to insurance companies. Insurers will profit at the expense of people injured in a motor vehicle accident through the fault of another. 

Hundreds of innocent victims will no longer receive compensation commensurate with the extent of the injuries they have suffered.

Instead the Barr Government will impose a blunt and arbitrary bar that means hundreds of Canberrans will no longer be fully compensated for:

  • all reasonable past and future treatment expenses
  • gratuitous care provided by family and friends (such as a parent caring for an injured child)
  • past and future lost income
  • past and future lost superannuation
  • pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

The Government’s new scheme proposes to give insurers the power to determine a range of life-changing decisions. Insurers will decide whether treatment is ‘reasonable and necessary’, or ‘cost effective’, or ‘appropriate for the injury’. Insurers will decide what capacity an injured person has to work, and whether payments should be suspended or even ceased.

The much-touted early access to treatment and care is illusory and will also be left to the whim of the insurers, as the proposed scheme is toothless in this respect.

The Society commends the work of Giulia Jones MLA in her dissenting report which points out the many failings ignored by Government in the proposed scheme. The Society agrees with the comments of Mrs Jones regarding the lack of independent review of insurer decisions, the discriminatory nature of the scheme in relation to older people and children, the significant administrative and negotiation burden placed on injured people, the reduction in compensation payable to injured people and the failure of the proposed scheme to provide an insurance product that will compensate them for the injuries they have incurred.

It is disappointing that the Government members of the committee have been so dismissive of the views of 71 out of the 75 submissions opposing the proposed scheme.

It is unsatisfactory that the Government members of the committee favour insurer profits over the well-being of their constituents. It is a pathetic non-decision to simply refer the issue of excessive insurer profits to a possible review in three years time.

No doubt the Government, backed by the insurers, will seek to bulldoze its inequitable and flawed scheme into law. The Society calls on the ACT Greens and the ACT Liberals to stand up for Canberra’s injured citizens and to oppose this unfair scheme.

The ‘ferocity of protest’ from the legal profession is an attempt to protect those constituents the Barr Government seems willing to abandon to the ‘good graces’ of the insurance companies. It is not law firms who stand to lose out under this proposed system — it is injured Canberrans.

For further information contact:
Mr Chris Donohue, President, ACT Law Society, M 0418 633 836, T 02 6274 0300 or 02 6248 6673