Endless and unfair bureaucratic processes foisted on vulnerable accident victims were the biggest factors in the NSW third party insurance scheme’s inefficiency, according to the Australian Lawyers Alliance.
The ALA was responding to comments by NSW finance minister Greg Pearce in a Daily Telegraph article that he needed to raise scheme premiums by around $50 to prevent insurers from pulling out of the scheme as threatened.
But Australian Lawyers Alliance NSW president Jnana Gumbert said the NSW scheme was actually still very affordable and any erosion of viability in the scheme could be attributed to bureaucratic processes such as the ‘medical assessment service’ which was not only time-consuming, costly and inefficient, but often meted out unfair determinations on victims.
She said the reason our CTP scheme was relatively more expensive than other states was because the former government kept adding extras that other states did not provide.
These included: lifetime care and support for catastrophically injured people, no-fault benefits for children, ‘blameless’ accident coverage, up to $5,000 payments for all accident victims regardless of fault, and refunding of the public hospital system for treatment of motor accident injuries.
Ms Gumbert said the Australian Lawyers Alliance had been campaigning for more than ten years to abolish unnecessary scheme bureaucracy, yet this seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
‘In 2005, the Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No. 1 unanimously recommended that the Medical Assessment Service be abolished. Now nearly eight years later, there has been no action in this regard,’ Ms Gumbert said.
Ms Gumbert said if the government was serious about trying to improve the scheme, reduce delay, and reduce administrative and legal costs, it should listen to what stakeholders and the Standing Committee have been saying for years – that the best, fairest way to reduce cost is to prune unnecessary bureaucratic obstructions.