Article – Future of north hinges on insurance

August 24, 2013
Tony Raggatt
Townsville Bulletin
THERE will be little or no development of northern Australia without affordable insurance cover.
We need to remind our politicians of this point as they release vision statements forecasting trade bonanzas for our region supplying food, raw materials and services to Asia.
Unfortunately, despite four years of newspaper headlines, hundreds of submissions to various inquiries and a petition signed by thousands of people, the politicians, with the exception of Cairns-based Liberal National Party MP Warren Entsch, just don’t seem to get it.
Labor’s response is unbelievable.
I approached the office of assistant treasurer David Bradbury this week for comment on Labor’s plans.
Should Labor win, which I admit is looking even more remote than Kevin Rudd delivering on his promises to cut the corporate tax rate in the Northern Territory, Mr Bradbury is the man who will have coverage of this issue.
A statement came back from an “ALP campaign spokesperson” saying Labor already had a sensible policy in place.
It said $100 million in funding had been directed to flood mitigation projects at Roma, Ipswich and western Sydney and that an advisory group, the National Insurance Affordability Council, would be established to consider other funding applications and track developments in strata title insurance markets in northern Australia.
In other words, they are going to do little more than watch and wait.
Evidently, they don’t know we are paying four and five times the premiums of southern capitals, when cover is available, and three times that of the Northern Territory where a government-owned insurer operates.
I think the response is symptomatic of Labor’s flagging fortunes in North Queensland and elsewhere.
The LNP, which earlier this year had promised to release an insurance policy before the election, is now saying it will convene a round table meeting involving the Federal and State Governments and the insurance industry after the election. Warren Entsch developed a 36- page submission and options ranging from adjustments to the kind of cover required, to government underwriting disaster insurance, and levies to fund a reinsurance pool.
He said the work uncovered so many complexities and overlap in the responsibilities between state and federal governments and of insurers that a combined effort was required.
This looks to be the right way to go.
It’s just unfortunate we won’t know what they will do until after the election.
Courtesy of Townsville Bulletin