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 27/02/2004

C010/04

27 February 2004

AUSTRALIAN INSURANCE REFORMS 'WORLD CLASS’

State and Territory Ministers today applauded the significant reforms undertaken by all jurisdictions during the last two years to help ease the insurance crisis in Australia and noted the effect they have had on stabilising insurance premiums.

The seventh Ministerial Meeting on Insurance Issues, Chaired by Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan, concluded with the launch of a promotional booklet outlining the detailed reform of liability insurance law in Australia.

“The booklet will be used to promote the Australian insurance market to overseas insurers and was widely welcomed by the UK insurance industry during a visit to London by State, Territory and Commonwealth officials earlier this year,” Senator Coonan said.

“Of particular interest to overseas insurers is the pace and depth of insurance reforms undertaken in Australia. We are now at the forefront of international efforts to implement tort law reform to curb blow-outs to the cost and availability of liability classes of insurance.”

Ministers were in strong agreement that further work should be done to assess the viability of a long-term care scheme for the catastrophically injured. A report will be presented to the next Ministerial meeting to be held in Darwin in September.

“In light of the recent Medical Indemnity Policy Review Panel, State and Territory Ministers agreed to examine the operation of medical assessment panels as a way of reducing legal costs and enhancing consumer outcomes,” Senator Coonan said.

Representatives from the Australian insurance industry invited to attend the meeting acknowledged the substantial reforms that have been undertaken by all jurisdictions in such a short time and Ministers called on the industry to fulfil their obligations to pass the benefits of those reforms on to consumers.

“Ministers were pleased to note the recent ACCC price monitoring report showed a significant slowing of premium increases over the last six months. It’s vital the Australian community feels confident that benefits are passed on and Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring this takes place,” Senator Coonan said.

Ministers renewed their calls for the Australian Government to press ahead with amendments to the Trade Practices Act and the Insurance Contracts Act to support State and Territory reforms.

“With at least one recent example of the Trade Practices Act being used by plaintiffs in a way that could subvert State and Territory negligence laws, this is a real and demonstrated threat to all of the hard work undertaken over the last two years,” Senator Coonan said.

“The Australian Government remains committed to implementing Trade Practices Act reforms which are supported by all Governments and industry, to close a dangerous loophole.”

Copies of the international marketing report Reform of Liability Insurance Law in Australia are available at www.treasury.gov.au.