ACT News

NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust shelved because of third party insurers

Canberrans stand to lose expertise and funding for road safety initiatives after the ACT Government announced a long-standing trust which championed the cause would be shelved.

On Thursday, Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust would be wound down after new insurers entered the territory's compulsory third party insurance market.

The trust was formed by the ACT Government and NRMA Insurance to promote road safety awareness through education and research in 1992. 

It was funded by a $2 levy included in vehicle registration costs in the territory, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by NRMA.

NRMA lost its effective monopoly in the ACT when insurers AAMI, GIO and the Australian Pensioners Insurance Agency (Apia) were last year granted licences to offer CTP insurance in a bid to boost competition.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the arrival of the new insurers meant the current agreement with NRMA needed to end.

"While this arrangement was appropriate when the ACT had only one CTP insurer, it is not consistent with encouraging competition in the CTP market or the principle of ensuring a level playing field for all insurers in that market," Mr Corbell said. 

"Following consultation with the ACT's CTP insurers it is agreed that the trust should come to an end and that new arrangements should be established instead."

Chairman Don Aitkin understood the trust would continue to operate until June, and current projects and research grants would be immediately affected.

"We've still got half a year's income and we'll have to continue in the same form to discharge the responsibility of spending the money."

He expected the trust would then proceed "in a low-key way" for about another year to ensure funding commitments were met.

The government will now look at alternative road safety funding models to firm up support for research and other road safety initiatives in the ACT. 

Mr Corbell said motorists would still be charged the $2 levy and that money would go to the new road safety funding model.

Opposition transport spokesman Alistair Coe praised the trust's work and said he would be happy to work with the government to find new road safety initiatives.

Professor Aitkin said whatever new initiative the territory government decided on would likely need to continue the work of the trust but with less funding.

"It would make it more long-winded, I think I can safely say that, because once you get into government there's more process.

"We've amassed a great deal of road safety knowledge and that will be lost."

The trust has allocated more than $20 million to about 400 road safety initiatives in the past 22 years. 

It funded projects which included Road Ready driver education programs, a perpetual road trauma and emergency medicine chair at Canberra Hospital, and scholarships for postgraduate students researching road safety matters.