«3034 [COUNCIL] I thought I would point out ever so nicely to Hon Kim Chance that in The Macquarie Dictionary “administration” is defined as the ...»
I thought I would point out ever so nicely to Hon Kim Chance that in The Macquarie Dictionary “administration” is
defined as the function of a political state in exercising its governmental duties. I think that gives me a wide scope to
talk about anything that the Government does.
Before I was interrupted, I was congratulating Hon Nick Griffiths for giving Hon Paul Omodei and me a $15 000
cheque to present to the Blues at Bridgetown festival. The blues festival works on much volunteer help. A friend and I worked together for eight hours on Friday until one o’clock in the morning. Another friend of mine, Jennifer Wright, worked all weekend around the clock looking after the thousands of dollars that came into the town. Jennifer Wright is an accountant in town and has for many years run the money side of the blues festival. Such is her dedication that when Laurie Wright’s mother passed away on the Sunday of the blues festival, Jenny still worked, as did her family, Melissa and Nadine. Many country people dedicate themselves to hard work to make money for the community in which they live. The blues festival gives an opportunity for the Lions Club, the Netball Association and other community groups to make money. Some of the money raised will go to the new recreation centre that is being built in Bridgetown. The Government has contributed significantly to this recreation centre, and I believe the community’s contribution is to be $75 000. Once again, many people over many years have lobbied and worked hard for Bridgetown to have a recreation centre. City people have recreational centres everywhere, but small country towns have to fight for years to get government money and to raise money themselves. When built, this recreation centre will be a huge asset for the town.
No-one has worked harder for this centre over the years than Lyn and Peter Whitney, who are avid sportspeople.
Going through some media statements, I noticed that Hon Clive Brown said that there was only good news about business opportunities for small businesses that attracted more women. I would like to tell Hon Clive Brown that since the Government introduced its industrial relations legislation a lot of women have lost their jobs because their employers cannot afford to pay them $35 an hour. In Albany, three businesses have closed their doors, one business has been taken over by a contractor and other women are losing their jobs on public holidays because businesses cannot afford to open.
This is having a significant effect and will continue to do so in hotels, industry and tourism especially. It is not a good thing for women.
I had a phone call from an old friend of mine, Freda Mabey. Freda has emphysema and often visits the Fremantle Hospital. She said that she has a battle to go through the doors to get into the hospital because of the smoking that people do outside the doors and in the hospital precinct. She wondered why the Government has not put a ban on smoking in hospital grounds. I said I would raise this matter. It seems silly that people can smoke outside a hospital door when other people are trying to get into the hospital. There is absolutely no ban on smoking in hospital grounds.
It is a good issue that perhaps the Government will consider taking up.
Debate adjourned, on motion by Hon Alan Cadby.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE AND PRIVILEGESStanding Order No 61A, Sixth Report, Consideration of Committee Reports Hon George Cash presented the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and Privileges relating to Standing Order No 61A, Consideration of Committee Reports, and on his motion it was resolved That the report do lie upon the Table and be printed.
[See paper No 458.]
INSURANCE COMMISSION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA AMENDMENT BILL 2002Second Reading Resumed from 12 November.
HON NICK GRIFFITHS (East Metropolitan - Minister for Racing and Gaming) [7.37 pm]: I thank Hon Alan Cadby and Hon George Cash for their contributions and, in particular, for their support for the Bill. Hon Alan Cadby quite properly raised a number of issues in his contribution and I will do my best to answer those queries.
First, he asked me to confirm the nature of the cover in the Bill and that it will be around $10 million. The cover will include public, professional and medical treatment liability, workers compensation, property, and motor vehicle and personal accident. The recommended minimum limit will be $10 million and, when necessary, it will be increased to accommodate the specific requirements of the organisation.
Hon Alan Cadby: What are the mechanics of that?
Hon NICK GRIFFITHS: The question referred to the nature of the cover and I have said what that is and the amount involved. The mechanics behind how the amount of cover will be assessed is something that will be dealt with by the Insurance Commission of Western Australia with the relevant organisation at the end of the day. Interested members and the House generally have been provided with information of what is proposed to be done in terms of mechanics, [Wednesday, 13 November 2002] 3035 what organisations will be involved and how they will be assessed. The particular level of cover provided is a matter to be determined by the Insurance Commission, which is experienced in dealing with matters of insurance.
Please note that, ultimately, this Bill of itself does nothing; it is a Bill that permits things to be done. As Hon Alan Cadby eloquently pointed out in his contribution, it is an enabling Bill. Hon Alan Cadby also said I wonder if that is a way of Treasury improving its cash flow. I wonder whether not-for-profit organisations will be taxed through public liability insurance.
This is not a matter of Treasury improving its cash flow. It is not a matter of organisations being taxed at all. This is a serious effort to provide a component to deal with the insurance crisis Hon Alan Cadby: It is actually the level of the fee.
Hon NICK GRIFFITHS: I will deal with the amounts. This is not a taxing measure. If it were in any way to become a taxing measure, there would be very significant political censure. No Government worth its salt would ever permit this to be a taxing measure. No Opposition worth its salt would ever permit any Government to get away with using this as a taxing measure. That will not occur. It is not on, and it is not the intention. Again, this is an enabling Bill.
There have been significant increases in premiums since early 2001. It is envisaged that not-for-profit organisations will pay a premium to the fund that is somewhere between their pre-January 2001 premiums and the current indicative premium levels. It is intended that, as is the case with RiskCover insurance, the fund will be underwritten with the objective of breaking even over time. This is not meant to be an exercise in profit. The premiums raised are intended to match the claim costs after proper allowance is made for investment income and administration expenses. Hopefully, investment markets will start to head north. That tends to be the case over time. It is a proper practice - it is certainly the practice of the Insurance Commission - to use income from investments to offset what would otherwise be premium increases. This is the practice that is intended. It is intended for the community’s benefit and not to in any way slug people.
The member asked whether organisations will be treated as a class or as individuals in the setting of premiums. The intention is that premiums will be set on an individual basis. However, we are dealing with insurance and our community, and with the world as it is, small organisations will probably require a cross-subsidy in, at the very least, the short term. Over time, premiums will be set on an individual basis. We need to be flexible, because the purpose is to keep our community going.
Another question was about the situation faced by an associated incorporation if its membership fell below five during the insurance period, and whether it would still have insurance cover. Earlier today Hon Ljiljanna Ravlich made a statement in the House about the membership of incorporated associations falling below six. That statement went to the heart of the issue. An association and its legal engagements - an insurance policy is a contract - will continue as long as the association continues. It would be another matter if the association ceased.
Hon Alan Cadby interjected.
Hon NICK GRIFFITHS: Yes. Given that the association would continue to exist, so too would the policy. If the commission discovered that the association had, in effect, fallen over, the renewal of the policy would be questioned, and one would think that it would not be renewed. The safeguards will exist within that time span. The other matters concern operational practicalities. We are on earth and the world is not perfect Hon Alan Cadby: That statement is a good guarantee for the people involved at that particular time.
Hon NICK GRIFFITHS: That is the essence of Hon Ljiljanna Ravlich’s statement and the advice I have received backs that up.
A question was asked about sporting associations - the example used was the Wanneroo Basketball Association - and whether teams that are affiliated with an association, but not incorporated, receive protection under the association’s insurance. If the Bill becomes law, it will be an enabling Act. I cannot give a definitive answer. It will depend on the structure of the association. The test will be whether the association, through its structure and rules, is vicariously liable for its affiliated bodies. That will probably give the comfort and cover that people want.
I was also asked whether the fund allows clubs within an association to hold fundraising events and the like. Hon Alan Cadby - who seems to have a remarkable knowledge about the political spectrum - referred to the Liberal, Labor and National Parties, One Nation and the Greens (WA). I must chat with him on another occasion to learn how he knows about all the parties. His question was posed by way of example, rather than asking whether a particular group would have cover. The answer is yes, provided that the activities are typical activities conducted by the organisation in its insurance proposal or the renewal declaration, and provided that the club’s activity forms part of the policy. The policies will be individual and may be tailored. Noting the myriad activities with which we are concerned, I would be very surprised if a uniform policy applied to each and every organisation.
Another question that was posed is that an organisation must be acknowledged as performing a useful service to the community in the public interest, and who will make that decision. Again, this is enabling legislation, and the question 3036 [COUNCIL] relates to how it is envisaged this legislation will operate. Over time or upon reconsideration there may be a better way of dealing with particular cases. I do not envisage that every single case will be dealt with on the same basis. At this stage it is envisaged that the government agencies concerned have extensive knowledge of the operations, history and management of the community organisations that provide services or conduct activities relevant or allied to the purpose of the particular agency; therefore, as a matter of policy, the view is that they are best placed to make that determination. That is not to say that something else may not arise or be considered that could do a better job in a particular case. If that were to occur, noting the purpose of this legislation I have no doubt that that will be undertaken.
Another question that was posed is that it seems possible that the chief executive officer would encourage the organisation to obtain commercial insurance rather than rely on the Insurance Commission of Western Australia. The proposal to establish what can be called a joint insurance fund is to provide an alternative to community organisations that have been unable to obtain insurance or are unable to obtain insurance at a reasonable cost from the private insurance market. The intention is that the facility of the fund will be provided until such time as private insurance market premiums return to a reasonable level and community organisations are able to access that insurance. It is one thing to have the premiums at a reasonable level. The other side of the equation is that a private sector insurance company may not offer a policy to an organisation.
Hon Alan Cadby: I was quoting from the “Joint Department of Treasury and Finance and Insurance Commission of WA Guidelines for Admission to Community Fund”, which states that the chief executive officer should consider whether a grant or subsidy to the organisation could assist it in meeting the cost of commercial insurance.
Hon NICK GRIFFITHS: I am giving my view as someone who has responsibility for the Insurance Commission of Western Australia. That is a possibility, but if the organisation can obtain insurance at a reasonable cost from the private insurance sector, it is envisaged that that is the course of action that will be encouraged. This measure is designed to move into areas in which the market has failed to provide reasonable pricing or from which it has chosen to walk away. This is not meant to be in competition with the private sector. It is not socialism in our time.