In October 2016 I wrote regarding the radically unfair changes the NSW Government was proposing to make to our Compulsory Third Party (Green Slip) insurance scheme. I lobbied Government and Shadow Members of Parliament and attempted to ensure that the proposals were an issue in the Orange State By Election. I record my gratitude to Ms Yasmin Catley, MP for Swansea for travelling to Orange during the By Election campaign to raise awareness about the unfairness of the proposals. I also thank Bernard Fitzsimons and Joe Maric for their efforts in highlighting the radical proposals.
I am pleased to say that this month the Government has seen some sense – with the introduction of the Motor Accident Injuries Bill 2017. The Bill displays significant improvements on the scheme initially proposed.
The Government’s original scheme provided for 5 years of no-fault benefits with no access to legal representation. Only those over 10% whole person impairment recovered anything more. Both these proposals have been abandoned. The updated scheme instead retains lump sum compensation for past and future economic loss and provides life time medical treatment and care for every innocent accident victim with more than a soft tissue injury or minor psychological injury.
Minister Dominello read the Bill into Parliament on 9 March 2017 announcing:
“The bill introduces a new New South Wales compulsory third-party [NCTP] insurance scheme for people who are injured or lose their life as a result of a motor accident. It represents a major reform for the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government. As a result of the NCTP, the owners of the 5.3 million registered vehicles across New South Wales will see a significant reduction in their premiums. The people injured on our roads will benefit from broader coverage and greater benefits. Subject to approval by Parliament, the new scheme will start on 1 December 2017. Motorists can expect to see a gradual reduction in green slip premiums throughout the course of this year with the full reductions to be felt from day one of the new scheme. The scheme will give people injured in accidents fast access to statutory benefits in the form of weekly income support and medical treatment and care. The focus of NCTP will be on rehabilitation of injured road users so they can return to good health sooner. The reforms will also improve the claims and dispute resolution process and arrest insurer super profits”.
The updated Bill, as proposed, signifies a more just approach to the scheme. It retains acceptable levels of support for the more seriously injured, while proposing a delivery of premium reductions for motorists that the Government seeks. Most importantly, the proposed scheme aims to cut into the enormous “super profits” made by CTP insurers. Time will tell whether the Government carries through with the proposals, and whether it achieves its stated aims. I will certainly be doing whatever I can to hold the Government, and future Governments, to a fairer system for all motorists injured on the road.