About 600 more Canberrans each year will be covered if they are injured in a motor vehicle accident under changes to the ACT’s compulsory third party insurance scheme.
A draft bill tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday (20 September) will see Canberrans receive cover regardless of fault and will also ensure that people don’t have to wait two years to receive a payout.
Among other things, it will mean that people who hit a kangaroo or lose control on an icy patch of road will be eligible to receive cover – when previously they’ve had to go without.
However, people who are drink driving or engaged in serious speeding offences at the time of an accident will still be excluded – although they will have access to treatment payments while charges are pending.
Canberrans convicted of a lower category driving offence such as mid-range drink driving or driving while disqualified will be entitled to treatment and care but not income replacement or quality of life benefits.
If drivers are convicted of low-level drink driving or were speeding, using a mobile phone or not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, their income replacement and quality of life benefits will be reduced by 25 per cent.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the exposure draft of the Motor Accident Injuries Scheme Bill delivers on the new approach to accident insurance recommended by the CTP citizens’ jury.
In its report delivered to Mr Barr in March, the jury chose Model D out of four options put to them because they believed it was the most equitable, efficient and provided the best value for money.
Mr Barr said that Canberrans pay some of the highest CTP premiums in the country but the current scheme doesn’t protect people as well as it should when they are on the road.
“The ACT Government is reforming the scheme because at the moment it doesn’t cover everyone injured in a motor vehicle accident and it can take two years or more to get a full payout,” Mr Barr said.
“Every one of Canberra’s 290,000 drivers has to pay for CTP when they register their vehicle. So we believe everyone should be entitled to proper protection on our roads,” he said.
“Under the new scheme, everyone who is injured in a motor vehicle accident will be entitled to up to five years of medical treatment, care and lost wages – as long as they’re not breaking the law at the time of the accident.”
Mr Barr said that people who commit serious driving offences are being excluded from receiving payments because the Government doesn’t believe people who do the right thing should pay for those who knowingly put others in danger.
“Canberrans who are seriously injured will still be able to pursue damages through the legal system if they need treatment and care long-term, after accessing up to five years of defined benefits,” Mr Barr said.
“The design of the new scheme was recommended by the citizens’ jury on CTP. The jury was made up of about 50 Canberrans who met several times over six months to hear evidence about how our current CTP scheme works from experts and people with experience of making claims through the scheme,” he said.
“The jury recommended that Canberra’s CTP scheme be reformed to prioritise early access to treatment and care for everyone who gets injured, and reduce the need for people to go to court to get help and compensation.”
However, the ACT Law Society has rejected many aspects of the proposed new scheme, saying that “the current fair level of compensation provided to innocent road accident victims will be traded away to pay benefits to the driver who caused the accident”.
ACT Law Society president, Sarah Avery, said the changes will mean that several long-standing principles of natural justice and procedural fairness will no longer apply to innocent road accident victims.
“The changes will see many injured people and their families suffer ongoing financial hardship as they are pushed into the social welfare system,” Ms Avery said.
“The Society strongly opposes the arbitrary reduction of compensation payable to innocent road accident victims in order to pay for benefits to at-fault drivers.”
The draft bill was today referred to the Justice and Community Safety Committee for further community consultation.
The committee is set to report by the end of October and its input will inform the final bill that is due to be introduced to the Legislative Assembly by the end of this year.
The draft exposure bill as well as the citizens’ jury’s final report and recommendations are available at: https://yoursay.act.gov.au/ctp
What do you think of the CTP scheme changes? Do you think people should be covered in an accident regardless of whether they are at fault? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.