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Helen Coonan

Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer

26 November 2001 - 17 July 2004

Media Release of 10/06/2004

C049/04

10 June 2004

ANAO FINDS HIH CLAIMS SCHEME A CREDIT TO THOSE INVOLVED

The Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) report into the HIH Claims Support Scheme has given the Government credit for its quick and sympathetic response to helping those affected by the collapse of HIH in 2001, Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan, said today.

“The Department of Treasury has accepted all of the recommendations of the ANAO performance audit HIH Claims Support Scheme – Governance Arrangements and the report shows that, despite the challenging circumstances that necessitated the scheme, the outcomes achieved to date are a credit to the parties involved,” Senator Coonan said.

In May 2001, the Government decided to implement a scheme to provide assistance to policyholders suffering financial hardship as a result of the collapse of HIH.

“The success of the scheme is testament to the Howard Government’s commitment to alleviating the terrible hardship faced by many victims of the HIH collapse, quickly and effectively,” Senator Coonan said.

“As at March 2004, the Scheme had received approximately 15,000 applications for assistance, and the Government had provided approximately $330 million to, or on behalf of, HIH policyholders.

“It would not have been possible to achieve such success without the support of the Australian insurance industry and its cooperation in setting up and managing the Scheme.

“The HIH Claims Support Scheme is a unique example of Government and industry working together under considerable time constraints to implement a program of assistance.

“Within seven weeks of the Government’s announcement, a policy framework was established, Treasury had commenced making payments to salary continuance policy holders and HIH Claims Support Limited was ready to process applications.

“While Treasury has accepted all of the report’s recommendations, during the scheme’s operation many of the issues raised in the ANAO’s report were internally identified and action taken to address them.”

Information about the Scheme can be obtained from the HIH Gateway Facility website http://hihgateway.treasury.gov.au or toll free on 1800 055 544.