The ACT will have its first taste of deliberative democracy with the recruitment of a citizens’ jury to find ways to improve the Territory’s Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance scheme.
It will coincide with a community consultation process via the Your Say website.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced the move on Tuesday despite warnings from Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur earlier in the month that the topic risked boring Canberrans.
She climbed down from that remark but suggested that other topics that could be dealt with by citizens’ jury could be the location of public housing in the Territory, playground provision and whether 16 and 17-year-olds should have the vote. With $2.8 million allocated in the Budget for the financial year, she was looking forward to more citizen juries’.
Mr Barr said CTP insurance was an issue that affected all of Canberra’s 285,000 drivers and a citizens’ jury was an ideal model to work through such a complex issue.
He said a representative jury of 50 Canberrans would study the scheme and the trade-offs involved, be advised by experts and hear the views of industry stakeholders and the wider community.
But the jury would be told that premiums could not rise as a result of any package of improvements.
Mr Barr said its first task would be to identify the priorities for a CTP scheme that best balanced the interests of all road users.
“The jury’s priorities will then be given to a Stakeholder Reference Group made up of legal representatives, healthcare providers, consumers and ACT Government officials,” Mr Barr said.
“The reference group will develop a number of workable models for consideration. The jury will then come together again and assess which of the models best meets those priorities.”
Mr Barr said the Government was committed to pursuing the model the jury preferred on the basis that it met the community’s priorities.
Invitations to participate in the citizens’ jury will be mailed out from 7 September with an independent recruiter selecting the jury, which will broadly correspond to the demographic profile of the ACT and involve different types of road users, in late September.
The jury’s first meeting is set down for 14-15 October, with another meeting on 28-29 October to set priorities. Stakeholder Reference Group meetings will take place from November 2017 to March 2018. The jury will meet on March 24-25 to consider workable models and a model is expected to be chosen in the third quarter of 2018.
Mr Barr said that Canberrans paid some of the highest premiums in the country, yet there were significant gaps in coverage.
“The ACT’s current CTP scheme does not cover everyone injured in a motor vehicle accident, leaving too many Canberrans exposed to big medical bills and other costs,” he said.
“For example, if you hit a kangaroo you cannot claim under the CTP scheme for your injuries because no-one was at fault.
“It can also take two years or longer to negotiate and receive a full payout after an accident, preventing Canberrans getting the treatment and care they need right away.”
The use of deliberative democracy is part of the Parliamentary Agreement between Labor and the Greens.
Community members and stakeholders can provide feedback on CTP by visiting: www.yoursay.act.gov.au/ctp.