Greens make CTP scheme fairer for injured people in motor accidents
17 May 2019
After 6 months of negotiation, the ACT Greens have secured a range of significant changes to improve the Government’s new compulsory third party insurance (CTP) scheme.
A range of improvements have been negotiated that will help ensure people injured in motor vehicle accidents are properly cared for through the ACT’s CTP scheme. This is a much fairer scheme than the one originally proposed by the Government, and the improvements show the valuable role the Greens play as balance-of-power negotiators.
The CTP system needs to look after injured people, provide the treatment and support they need, and do it in a timely way. People shouldn’t have to spend years in a difficult and adversarial legal minefield, or battling powerful insurance companies.
The Greens argued that the Government’s original proposal had the potential for injured people to be left worse off, and to face too many barriers when navigating the new system. We were very clear with the Government that changes needed to be made before the Greens could support this new CTP scheme. We’ve now secured significant changes.
One of the biggest positives of the new scheme is that it will cover drivers who are unable to show someone else was at fault in the accident. This means a person who is injured due to a momentary lapse of attention, or because they hit an animal, for example, will be able to receive support and treatment for their injuries through the CTP scheme. Under the previous scheme these people had no means to seek financial support for what can be serious and life-changing injuries. Currently this impacts about 600 ACT residents per year, and it is excellent that the proposed new scheme will fix this.
One of the other main benefits of the proposed scheme is fewer claims going through protracted legal processes, and injured people getting faster access to the support and treatment they need. Many claims currently take years to resolve - on average nearly 4 years for large claims. In the new scheme, payments will begin as soon as the claim is lodged and insurers are required to cover certain costs while they assess the application. While it’s likely that many personal injury lawyers still won’t like the scheme, we think it is an overall win for Canberra’s travelling public.
The key improvements negotiated by the Greens are:
- The scheme will be fairer for injured children and workers. Injured children still requiring treatment and injured adults still needing income benefits after 5 years will now be able to access common law despite having less than 10% ‘Whole Person Impairment’ (WPI).
- The scheme will now provide options for injured people still requiring medical treatment after 5 years. These people will be eligible for a lump sum payment from their insurer which can also be arbitrated in ACAT. (This is for not-at-fault people with less than 10% WPI).
- People who are of retirement age but were still working at the time of their accident will be able to access defined benefit income replacement payments for up to two years.
- Income replacement payments for low income people who are injured will now include superannuation (previously this was excluded).
- Changes to the bill will reduce the possibility of insurers rejecting claims because of late lodgement, and incentivise insurers to disseminate information about the CTP process.
- Benefits will no longer be limited or removed for a range of people who were injured while committing certain traffic offences (even though this may have been completely unrelated to the accident), including: cyclists who were not wearing a helmet; drivers whose passenger wasn’t wearing a seatbelt; and situations where a blood test detected a driver’s past cannabis use but this didn’t necessarily impair the driver.
- Injured people who have separate physical and psychological injuries from their injuries can now receive quality of life payments for both injuries (previously this was limited to one or the other).
- People injured in a motor vehicle while at work will now have up to 13 weeks to decide whether to receive benefits through the workers compensation scheme or CTP scheme.
- Decisions about defined benefits decisions will be able to be appealed through ACAT, and a new division of ACAT will be established.
- Insurance companies can receive far greater penalties for not complying with their obligations.
One of the Greens’ primary concerns was that the scheme was weighted too far in favour of well-resourced insurance companies. Several changes address this concern. There will be a Motor Accidents Injuries Commission and Commissioner who will have strong enforcement powers and, we are assured, adequate resourcing to ensure they can exercise proper regulation and supervision of insurers, of insurer profits, that they can obtain and publish adequate information, and that they can respond effectively to complaints.
The Greens also raised concerns about the ability of insurers to achieve super profits at the expense of accident victims. The legislation now includes a requirement for insurers to specify their profit margins. It also includes an ability for the Motor Accidents Injuries Commissioner to cap the profits or super profits of insurers in situations where the actual net profit differs from a reasonable industry net profit.
Another improvement is that all defined benefits decisions will now be able to be appealed through ACAT, and a new division of ACAT will be established. Insurers can’t be the final arbitrator of decisions about people’s benefits and care – it is important these can be resolved through an accessible tribunal like ACAT.
The Greens also asked for improved advocacy support for claimants, to help them navigate the system. Advocacy services will include community legal centres, but also broader community-based advocacy groups like ADACAS and COTA, and health groups such as Health Care Consumers ACT.
The revised CTP scheme was actually developed through a deliberative democracy process undertaken by a “citizens’ jury”. The ACT Greens have advocated for citizens’ jury processes, and in fact the Greens-ALP Parliamentary Agreement requires the Government to run these kinds of deliberative democracy processes to better involve the community in decision making. The CTP citizens’ jury consisted of 50 everyday Canberrans and the jury process was managed by a professional facilitator. We believe the final CTP scheme, with the amendments, better implements the essential features recommended by the jury.
The final scheme is a significant change to the ACT’s previous CTP laws, and we’re pleased that it will be reviewed after three years of operation, at which point we can make any further improvements required.
We thank the Government for working through this process closely with the Greens; they have agreed to make important changes to their legislation and we think this is now a vastly fairer scheme.
“Considering the positives in the new model, including the development of its key principles by a citizens’ jury, the early access to treatment and benefits, and the inclusion of at fault drivers, I think the new scheme - with the significant improvements made by the Greens – will be an overall win for Canberra’s travelling public”
– Caroline Le Couteur MLA.
The new Motor Accident Injuries Act will take effect in February 2020.
The ACT Greens have today called for new measures to ensure Canberra’s transport system is accessible for all, including seniors and those with a disability.
“It’s time to think differently about our transport hubs, our places and our public spaces. It’s time to ensure that all Canberrans, no matter their mobility, can get around Canberra,” ACT Greens Transport spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur said today.
“The new light rail stations are an example of accessibility, done right. However, there’s still more to be done to ensure that the entire Canberra transport network is accessible for all.”
To achieve this, the Greens propose that the Government should expand flexible and on demand bus services and establish an Access Advisory Council.
Expand flexible and on demand bus services
Currently, a flexible bus service helps Canberra residents who can’t use regular bus routes, such as the aged or people with a mobility difficulty, to get from their home to local community locations.
However, this service is very limited. It only runs from 9:30am to 1:30pm on weekdays and needs to be booked two days ahead.
The Government should commit to expanding flexible or on demand bus services over time to ensure that fully functioning flexible bus service works in parallel with the new bus network. This would:
- Cater for all passengers who aren’t served by the main public transport system, such as people travelling to places with no local route
- Operate 7 days per week and for longer daily hours
- Become a true on-demand service with no need to book ahead
- Consider integration of taxis and ride share.
Establish an Access Advisory Council
At the last election, the ACT Greens called for an Access Advisory Council to be established to provide advice to Government about access issues in public transport and in urban planning. By consulting and engaging closely with key stakeholders, the Council will ensure that new developments and transport systems meet the necessary standards to ensure our city is accessible for people with a disability and who are aging.
“If we plan according to the most marginalised, we plan for everyone,” Ms Le Couteur added.
Lisa Wills M 0481 035 764 E firstname.lastname@example.org
As Canberra’s housing crisis continues, the Greens today have again called for significant Government investment in housing renewal—ensuring that all Canberrans, particularly those on low incomes, have a safe and secure place to live.
The latest Anglicare rental affordability snapshot, released today, surveyed 69,000 rental listings from across the country. It found that in Canberra, a couple with two children earning the minimum wage would find that not a single rental listing is affordable.
“The Greens are concerned to see that there has been no improvement in these housing affordability statistics across the Territory in the past three years,” Greens Housing spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur said today.
“There’s no silver bullet to fix the housing crisis. While the Government has made some investment in housing options, as the housing market tightens and our population grows, more investment is needed to ensure that all Canberrans can live with a roof of their heads.
“With high rents and historically low vacancy rates, it’s especially tough for those on low and moderate incomes to find safe and secure housing,” Ms Le Couteur said.
Of particular concern to Anglicare was the lack of any affordable rental options for young people supported by Youth Allowance, and people receiving Newstart Allowance, Disability Support Pension, or Parenting Payment (single), even including other payments such as Rent Assistance and Family Tax Benefit they may also be eligible to receive.
The Greens continue to call on the ACT Government to:
- significantly increase the supply of social and affordable rental housing;
- significantly increase the supply of community housing, noting that an AIHW report last year found that Canberra has the lowest proportion of community housing of any jurisdiction;
- ensure the long-awaited Housing Strategy is now fully implemented;
- expand the Common Ground housing site in Gungahlin.
In February, the Greens welcomed a commitment to allow landlords to claim a land tax exemption if they rent out their properties to low income Canberrans through community housing providers—following on from a Greens motion in the Assembly last year, and as outlined in the 2008 Greens-Labor Parliamentary Agreement. The legislation provides for the scheme to run for two years at this stage. However, the Greens believe that take-up could be improved if this were an ongoing scheme.
In April last year, the ACT Greens put forward a motion in the Assembly calling for a minimum proportion of social housing to be maintained, and increased supplies of affordable rental housing in the Territory—a motion that ACT Labor did not support.
In marking twenty years since Energy Efficiency Ratings (EERs) were first published in real estate advertisements in the ACT, the ACT Greens have today called on Government to ensure legislation is enforced so that rental properties are listed with EER ratings.
The EER Scheme provides a simple score to summarise the energy efficiency of a home, similar to the star ratings on appliances like washing machines. The publishing of EER ratings in property advertisements was the result of Greens efforts in the Assembly to curb greenhouse gas emissions and ensure our housing stock is equipped for our climate.
In December 1997, Greens MLA Kerrie Tucker brought forward a Bill that “require(d) any advertising material to contain a statement of the current energy efficiency rating of those premises… making the market operate more effectively by providing consumers with information about the energy efficiency of a house.”
The first advertisements of this kind ran on 31 March 1999—twenty years ago last weekend.
This was ground-breaking legislation at the time: but that was last century.
Twenty years on, the EER Scheme is still helping Canberrans choose a better home to buy or rent. However, the Scheme needs to be well-enforced if Canberrans are to fully benefit.
Greens Planning and Housing spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur today called on the Government to ensure that more compliance checks get underway to ensure all properties listed for rent include EER ratings, where one exists. A recent random sample of 40 online rental ads in Canberra, conducted by the ACT Greens, found that:
- Around 45% of ads listed no information regarding the property’s EER
- Around 35% of ads were listed as “EER Unknown”, “EER N/A”, “There is no EER” “EER 0” or variations;
- Leaving 20% where EERs were listed.
Even though the majority of these properties did not list the EER in rental advertisements, the Greens understand that the majority would have undertaken EER ratings—ratings that we believe should be clearly listed.
"Renters should have all the relevant information to hand before they sign up to a lease. This includes how energy efficient, or inefficient, a property is,” Ms Le Couteur said today. This is why 20 years ago the Greens legislation required all rental advertisers to provide the most current EER rating of their property, where these existed.
The Greens call on the government to enforce the legislation so that more Canberra renters can find out what the energy efficiency rating of a prospective property is—before they sign onto a lease and discover that the property is freezing in winter or boiling in summer.
"Energy efficient homes are far more comfortable to live in and cost-effective while helping to curb damaging greenhouse gas emissions."
A review of the EER Scheme is currently underway as part of the Labor-Greens Parliamentary Agreement. The Greens would like to see EERs required for all rental properties.
A move from the Greens to tackle the ACT’s housing crisis has finally been realised in a new land tax exemption for socially responsible landlords.
Onwards from a Greens motion in the Assembly last year, the Government will now allow landlords to claim an exemption on their land tax if they rent their house out to eligible low and moderate income tenants through a registered community housing provider.
“Renting out properties below market rates is a great opportunity for people who are prepared to go part of the way to help their fellow Canberrans,” Greens Housing spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur said today.
“Offering a land tax discount to these landlords is an incentive and a reward for doing something concrete, and quite significant, to address the ACT’s housing affordability crisis.
“The Greens are really pleased to see this item from the 2008 Parliamentary Agreement finally realised.
“In terms of leveraging affordable rental outcomes, this represents excellent value for Government investment.
“The Government should also ensure that landlords are made aware of this opportunity,” Ms Le Couteur added.
The legislation provides for the scheme to run for two years at this stage. However, the Greens believe that take-up could be improved if this were an ongoing scheme.
This scheme will also assist with the implementation of a 2016 Labor-Greens Parliamentary Agreement item, which is the establishment of a not-for-profit real estate agency, based on Homeground in Victoria. Local community housing provider, CHC, has won the contract to provide this service.
The major parties have teamed up to water down a motion before the Assembly today that would help ensure that new homes are well designed and built for warming summer temperatures.
“When the city swelters, we shouldn’t have Canberrans—including vulnerable older people, public housing tenants, and children—living in blisteringly hot homes that are like saunas in summer,” Greens Planning spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur said today.
“Yet we keep building apartments and townhouses that aren’t being designed or built for a warming climate.“We are disappointed that the major parties today have ruled out ‘future proofing’ the city’s apartments for the realities of climate change.
“This situation is only going to get worse. In 2050, Canberrans can expect to experience more than 100 days a year that are over 30 degrees—far and beyond what we’re currently used to, or building for.
“Buildings built now will still be standing in 2050, yet the major parties can’t seem to get it together to prevent Canberra homes from becoming practically unliveable. At a time when the climate is already in crisis, this is no time for delay.
“This was a real opportunity to show leadership, and both the major parties have bungled it.
“The Greens have fought hard for action on this issue for decades, and will continue to advocate for this issue to ensure homes in our city remains liveable in the climate crisis.
“While the current energy efficiency rating (EER) system has improved Canberra’s dwellings in the winter, it is clearly inadequate for the increasing summer period.”
Neither of the major parties would commit to real action, only agreeing to “investigate possible changes” in relation to:
- Changing planning rules for apartments to bring them up to at least the standard of NSW apartments;
- Improving monitoring of building quality.
The major parties also teamed up to vote against:
- Better designs for new public housing, which is often home to vulnerable older Canberrans at high risk from heat.
The deadlines for action have also been removed, so the remaining work may never be delivered.
The Greens today called on the Government to release a draft Territory Plan Variation to implement these changes for community consultation by the end of March 2020.
The Action Plan was to be delivered to the Assembly by the last sitting day in October.
The Relevant Officer
by email to EPDCustomerServices@act.gov.au
Objection to WRIGHT KFC PROPOSAL
da201834968; Block 1, Section 38, Wright
I write to object to this Development Application, and to support the objections of the many residents of Wright and Coombs who are concerned about the impact that this development would have on their neighbourhood.
The proposal for a KFC restaurant on this site should be rejected. It is not a suitable proposal for the site and can therefore be rejected under section 120 (b) of the Planning and Development Act. It is also inconsistent with the objectives of the Mixed Use Zone (Objectives c, f, g and h).
This proposal has the following major problems, which will have a significant impact on the local community:
- It is on a quiet residential street (Gornall Street) with homes to be built opposite and will affect local residents with traffic, noise, light and odour
- The proposal will impact on the attractiveness of the whole area, including the park and nearby homes
- The design is very bad for active travel
- Fast food is bad for health and this location will encourage children using the park to eat fast food
Odour, traffic and noise
The restaurant will be located very close to current and planned homes on Gornall Street. Residents of these homes would be severely affected by:
- Late-night and early morning noise from passing cars, car doors and restaurant machinery. This will have a particularly-bad impact because the car park is to be located on the Gornall Street-side of the site
- Bright lights shining into bedrooms from both signage and car park lighting. Commercial lighting is usually much brighter than residential lighting, and is not suitable for this area
- The grease odour that KFC restaurants emit, which many people find stomach-churning
Impact on the attractiveness of the area
The design and location of the proposal mean a big visual impact on the whole neighbourhood. Instead of having an attractive residential feeling, the park and surrounding homes will be faced with a car park and drive-through. Putting these parts of the development on the street-facing sides of the development is particularly objectionable – the design puts its ugliest areas right where they will have the biggest visual impact on the neighbourhood.
Bad for walking and cycling
The design is very bad for walking and cycling, and is clearly not in line with Mixed Use Zone objectives F and G, which call for promoting active living and providing a high quality public realm. Putting the car park and drive through on the street-front sides of the restaurant means there is no active shopfront facing onto the street. There is also no way for people walking to get safely to the front door of the restaurant.
There is a large body of health research that links fast food consumption to obesity and related health problems. Fast food should only be eaten occasionally as part of a balanced diet. Putting a KFC directly opposite a park will encourage children and teenagers to eat fast food at unhealthy levels.
Thank you for considering my objection, and those of concerned local residents. I urge you to listen to the local community and reject this proposal.
Caroline Le Couteur MLA
ACT Greens Member for Murrumbidgee
ACT Greens Spokesperson for Planning, Transport, City Services, Housing, Arts, Animal Welfare, Community Services, Women, Seniors and Social Inclusion
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