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ACT government introduces no-fault insurance scheme for crash victims

Treasurer Andrew Barr.

Treasurer Andrew Barr. Photo: Jay Cronan

The ACT government will introduce a no-fault insurance scheme to pay for lifetime care for Canberrans catastrophically injured in motor vehicle accidents.

The government will impose a new $34 levy on compulsory third party insurance premiums to pay for the scheme. Drivers are expected to start paying the levy from about May or June.

Treasurer Andrew Barr will introduce the lifetime care and support scheme bill in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday.

The scheme, if passed by the ACT Parliament, will buy in to the lifetime care and support scheme that already operates in NSW.

NSW will administer the scheme on the ACT's behalf. The ACT government will cover the costs for Canberrans who access care and treatment services.

Mr Barr said on Sunday that the government estimated that between three and six catastrophically injured Canberrans per year would access the scheme at an average cost of $2.3 million each.

The cost for some individuals could be lower - about $500,000 a year - or could go as high as $5 million per year.

The scheme, which has operated in NSW since 2006, is part of the ACT's roll-out of the national disability insurance scheme and is part of the territory government's responsibility to the national injury insurance scheme.

Under current ACT laws, people who are catastrophically injured in vehicle accidents must prove someone else was at fault to make a claim for lifetime care.

The new scheme will guarantee care on a no-fault basis for five categories of catastrophic injury: spinal cord, acquired brain injury, multiple amputations, burns and blindness.

The legislation will bring the ACT's approach to compensation into line with NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Mr Barr said the proposal left the door open to further reforms of compensation and personal injury laws and there was scope to extend the scheme to catastrophic workplace injuries in future.

"I think it would be fair to say that no-fault schemes are the modern approach to recognising catastrophic injury needs," Mr Barr said.

"It will give people assurance that if they're catastrophically injured in a motor vehicle accident they would have the support. It reduces the stress of litigation."

Mr Barr said the deal struck between Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell was for the ACT to pay its own way under the scheme.

"We're not subsidising them, they're not subsidising us," he said.

Under the proposal, there must be at least one registered vehicle involved in the accident for a victim to make a claim under the scheme.

Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to access the scheme only if there is a registered vehicle involved in their accident.

Certain accidents, such as those involving an unregistered vehicle on private property, would not be covered.

Mr Barr said he hoped the ACT opposition would support the bill.

"I would be surprised and disappointed if they didn't support this given their colleagues have supported it nationally," he said.

14 comments

  • A decent utilitarian approach

    Commenter
    nice
    Date and time
    February 24, 2014, 9:44AM
    • Fair enough. Should make serious accidents less of a feeding frenzy for lawyers and make sure the money goes to the care of the injured whatever the cause. But I predict $34 will become $50 per year very soon.

      Commenter
      Badger
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 9:57AM
    • Fair comment.
      Here's an even better suggestion. This one might actually prevent some of these horrific outcomes for members of the general public.
      Charge Third Party Insurance to a person's licence, NOT the vehicle. Currently a person injured in a motor accident claims from the other vehicle insurance, but no-one tracks who was driving, so repeat offenders just keep doing it with no penalty or tracking. If the 3rd party is on their licence, the government can track the repeat offenders and, in a manner similar to comprehensive car insurance, their licence cost will skyrocket as they injure other innocent motorists and the worst of them will be priced off the road, or refused 3rd party insurance altogether, rendering them unable to drive (and therefore unable to maim others). This is a PRIMARY road safety initiative, unlike fixed or mobile revenue cameras. It's also a "user pays" initiative. And best of all, someone who causes an accident that injures another person will think twice before doing something stupid when it is going to add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the cost of holding a drivers licence, and if they are a repeat offender they will simply be removed from driving, benefitting everyone.
      Any takers?

      Commenter
      Truthy
      Date and time
      February 25, 2014, 9:18AM
  • "A decent utilitarian approach" ... or a impost on about 200,000 people for the sake of between 3 - 6 people. I'm not opposed to it though ... but there are a couple of ways at looking at the whole thing.

    Commenter
    stuart
    Date and time
    February 24, 2014, 10:11AM
    • Does this scheme cover those that cause injury to themselves through wreakless and dangerous driving?

      Commenter
      Anthony
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 10:20AM
      • It doesn't judge them, it just helps everyone regardless of fault.

        Commenter
        judgemental
        Date and time
        February 24, 2014, 12:22PM
    • This is all good in theory, but how long can lower and middle income workers support these added costs of living. We are already seeing rising unemployments and a stalling economy. Our registration/third party is already one of the most expensive in the country.
      When you start adding $30-$50 here, triple rates, rising gas and power costs, petrol etc etc things start to bite. Especially when wages are starting to fall below inflation. No wonder our local labor-greens council members are about to get another big pay rise, and our federal pollies took a 40% pay rise 18 months back.

      Commenter
      Pp
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 10:25AM
      • It won't stop lawyers suing under common law. The ACT government knows this and are quietly avoiding it. So what will happen is that a person will have access to this scheme and still get another payout through the courts. It's called double dipping. Rorters already do it through Workers Comp which the government has no will to stop.

        Commenter
        zzREXzz
        Date and time
        February 24, 2014, 11:00AM
        • Do you think they (the government) really care? They are parasites that live off your money (taxes). Just look at the smug look on Barrs face. I would bet a million that blokes never worked a decent days work in his life.

          Commenter
          zzREXzz
          Date and time
          February 24, 2014, 11:18AM
          • Time to start registering our cars in Queanbeyan to save a couple of hundred dollars a year! This is getting ridiculous, registration + CTP has doubled in the last 10 years. I was paying half as much for a larger car when I was 18 years old!

            Commenter
            Daniel
            Date and time
            February 24, 2014, 11:41AM

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