Greens gain super concessions in CTP debate

The Barr government has agreed to last-minute changes that would allow low-income Canberrans to be paid superannuation as part of its new compulsory third party insurance legislation.

The Greens secured even more concessions to the new motor accident injuries scheme, during nearly four hours of debate on Tuesday.

Greens crossbencher Caroline Le Couteur. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Greens crossbencher Caroline Le Couteur. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

The long-coming reform had been expected to pass, but debate on 161 amendments will spill into Thursday.

It's another delay for the new scheme, which will give anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident access to up to five years of medical treatment, care and lost income, as long as they were not breaking the law at the time of the crash.

The government originally hoped the new scheme would begin in the second half of this year, but will instead start in February 2020, Chief Minister Andrew Barr confirmed.

Despite Labor making significant changes to the legislation earlier in the year to secure their vote, the Greens pushed for further amendments that would allow injured Canberrans who earn less than $50,000 per year to access payments equivalent to superannuation, although those on a higher income will still miss out.

A Labor spokeswoman said superannuation payments had been excluded from the bill originally because of "significant technical issues".

Under Commonwealth law, insurers cannot step into the shoes of an employer to pay superannuation, so the Greens' amendments will require a change in federal legislation.

Mr Barr said Labor supported the principle of the amendment and would work through the number of "technical issues" with the Commonwealth.

Greens crossbencher Caroline Le Couteur said allowing low income Canberrans to access payments for superannuation would help women in particular, who had to take time off work to rear children.

Opposition Leader Alistair Coe in the ACT Assembly. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Opposition Leader Alistair Coe in the ACT Assembly. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

But ACT Opposition Leader Alistair Coe said it was not clear why superannuation had only been included for people under that income threshold.

A spokeswoman for Ms Le Couteur said extending super to all injured people would change the scheme "too significantly".

She said other similar schemes did not pay any superannuation payments, "so this is a bonus in the ACT scheme".

The Liberals made a last ditch effort to remove the concept of significant occupational impact from the bill, an earlier concession to the Greens that would give injured workers and children the ability to sue for common law compensation if they still needed treatment after four years and six months.

The concept has been heavily criticised by unions, who say it creates a standard not in use anywhere else in the world.

However Mr Barr said significant occupational impact was an important part of the bill.

The Liberals also tried to halve the whole of person impairment threshold to 5 per cent, in order to open up common law compensation to more injured motorists.

However Mr Barr said the changes demanded by the Liberals would increase CTP premiums by $140.

He said the 10 per cent threshold was "more generous than any other jurisdiction in the country".