Community to help improve CTP in Canberra
23rd Aug 2017
The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has today welcomed Chief Minister Barr’s announcement that the ACT’s first citizen’s jury would soon be arranged to consider reform to the Territory’s Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance scheme.
Jamie Ronald, barrister and ACT ALA branch President, noted that ALA members represent many of those injured in motor vehicle accidents.
“The ALA looks forward to engaging with the Chief Minister and ACT Labor in its consultation with the community through the citizen’s jury,” Mr Ronald said today.
“As lawyers who represent injured victims to obtain compensation, we want to see fewer motor vehicle accidents, fewer injuries and, therefore, fewer CTP claims. CTP insurance exists to provide for compensation for those injured in motor vehicle accidents, but ultimately its best for everyone if these accidents don’t occur in the first place” said Mr Ronald.
“Improving road safety and reducing motor vehicle accidents must be the primary focus of any attempt to reduce the cost of CTP claims and, in turn, CTP premiums. After all, premiums are just the symptom of the problem.”
“The ALA is concerned that the Chief Minister’s citizen’s jury will see funds diverted from road safety projects,” said Mr Ronald. “The priority must be on improving roads in known black spots and providing additional police and other enforcement measures, such as mobile speed cameras. Mr Barr’s efforts to reduce premiums by focusing on the compensation paid to injured people misses the point: reforms need to target the causes of accidents, not the symptoms”.
The ALA also expressed concern about the makeup of the citizen’s jury.
“Members of the community that might have the most to offer to the citizen’s jury are being excluded from it because the Chief Minister thinks they have a vested financial interest. Family members of claimants and lawyers have a genuine interest in seeing the number and severity of injuries caused by road accidents reduced. A citizen’s jury that excludes those with experience of the present system is not truly representative, and will not be able to provide the government with a real and meaningful comparison between it and the reform proposals put forward. Excluding such experts will mean this citizen’s jury it at risk of representing a missed opportunity for meaningful reform,” said Mr Ronald.
Mr Ronald noted that some of the information provided to the media about the operation of the current CTP scheme is misleading.
“The current scheme includes provision for the payment of early treatment expenses. It is not the case, as the Chief Minister has stated in his press release, that injured people have to wait to get their final payout before those expenses are paid,” said Mr Ronald.