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.