The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Helen Coonan

Helen Coonan

Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer

26 November 2001 - 17 July 2004

Media Release of 03/04/2003


31 March 2003


Significant State, Territory and Commonwealth government reforms over the past year to stabilise the market for public liability insurance are now paying dividends, the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan said today.

Speaking prior to a meeting with the State and Territory ministers to address issues across the insurance sector, Senator Coonan, said the objective of the Federal Government has been to deliver a framework to improve the availability and affordability of public liability insurance.

Senator Coonan said that much had been achieved in the past year since the Ministers first met in Canberra last March at the height of the public liability crisis.

"All Australian jurisdictions have made significant strides toward implementing law reform. This reform is fundamentally improving the basis on which insurers decide whether or not to offer insurance and at what price," Senator Coonan said.

"Businesses, community groups and medical practitioners will be the main beneficiaries of the reforms so far."

"We have made significant progress on public liability and medical indemnity, however the one remaining area which needs serious attention is professional indemnity insurance."

Professional groups across Australia have highlighted the very significant difficulties facing professions as diverse as accountants and environmental engineers in obtaining insurance.

"Professional indemnity insurance will be the area in which I hope we can make substantial in roads this Friday", Senator Coonan said.

"Ministers will be considering the national adoption of both proportionate liability and professional standards legislation."

Professional standards legislation carries with it some very significant benefits for consumers including requiring professionals to comply with comprehensive standards of risk management. It also requires professionals to take out insurance to high levels, which could improve the ability of consumers to seek redress in circumstances of professional negligence.

The meeting in Perth is the fifth meeting of Federal, State and Territory Ministers in 13 months on the Public Liability issue.