New shadow minister

The Federal Opposition has made a key appointment, with the new Shadow Minister for Financial Services looking at insurance affordability as a high priority.

Dr Jim Chalmers MP, assigned the financial services, superannuation and sports portfolios on 13 October, says that his first focus regarding the insurance industry will be looking into the Northern Australian Premiums Taskforce.

“My initial priorities are understanding the Northern Australia Premiums Taskforce, as well as recent developments in life insurance in light of the release of the Government’s response to the Financial System Inquiry,” Chalmers says.  [Click to tweet]

“I’ve already been meeting with a number of key players in the industry including peak groups and individual companies and I thank them for their insights.”

“I’m conscious that there are a range of complex issues on the table at the moment so I’m taking the time to consult and listen,” he adds.

Chalmers says he is also looking forward to considering opportunities for the expansion of Australia’s insurance industry into foreign markets.

“There are some very exciting medium-term issues to think about as well, including how our insurance sector takes advantage of opportunities in the region and how we ensure we have the best-educated graduates to work in the industry,” Chalmers says.

“Insurance brokers play a vital role in the insurance sector, and are well placed to facilitate further expansion of our insurance business into overseas markets.”

Regarding the current deliberation surrounding insurance stamp duty and levies, Chalmers says that all submissions will be considered.

“We’re up for a constructive debate about tax reform, and we’ll consider any proposals regarding insurance stamp duties carefully.”

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has welcomed the appointment, with ICA CEO Rob Whelan saying that Chalmers emerges well prepared for tackling the challenges currently facing the insurance sector.

“Dr Chalmers has an impressive academic and career track record that augers well for his ability to make a positive contribution to the policy debate in this area,” Whelan says.

“The ICA particularly notes Dr Chalmers’ background as Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue, and membership of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics.

“At a time when tax reform is urgently needed to boost Australia’s productive capacity and meet future spending challenges, this experience will be highly useful.”