Stoush over Northern Australia ‘delay’

A war of words has broken out between the Government and Opposition over the alleged inaction in relation to insurance premiums in Northern Australia.

If you recall, the Turnbull Government revealed that it will provide $7.9 million to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to inquire into the matter in its 2017 Budget.

The Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, recently stated: “Importantly, the ACCC inquiry that the Turnbull Government has funded will be able to directly consider the impact on insurance premiums of tropical cyclone Debbie.”

But Shadow Minister Katy Gallagher says it’s a “do-nothing” approach to the “escalating” situation.

“Despite the Turnbull Government being fully aware of the risks and costs of cyclones including the impact that rising insurance costs are having on households and businesses in cyclone prone Northern Australia they continue to ignore the sensible recommendations of the [Northern Australia Insurance Premiums] Taskforce,” she says.

The NAIP taskforce had released its report over a year ago, with still no formal response from the government. It had recommended increased investment into household mitigation strategies, research into mitigation and targeted assistance for mitigation works.

O’Dwyer maintains the ACCC inquiry is an important step to ensure all factors impacting affordability are considered.

In addition, the Minister points to actions the Queensland government could take “immediately” such as reforming strata regulations and tackling inefficient state taxes, to ease the burden on households and businesses.

Gallagher says that is simply shifting the blame, calling on the government to provide its response to the NAIP Taskforce.

The ACCC inquiry started on 1 July and it will provide interim reports to the government by 30 November 2018 and 30 November 2019, with a final report due 30 November 2020.