Probe find­ings dis­ap­point

Pilbara News - - Front Page - ■ Tom Zaun­mayr

Find­ings from the long-awaited probe into in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums in North­ern Aus­tralia have been panned by in­dus­try stake­hold­ers in the North West.

The main mes­sage from the North­ern Aus­tralia In­sur­ance Pre­mi­ums task force was the need for im­proved mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies in­clud­ing higher build­ing stan­dards, bet­ter retrofitting and more pub­lic aware­ness.

Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Aus­tralia Pil­bara chief ex­ec­u­tive Diane Pentz said sub­mis­sions re­flect­ing con­cerns of home and busi­ness own­ers in the north had not been taken into ac­count.

“In Kar­ratha you are pay­ing 400 per cent more than you’d be pay­ing in Perth — that is just not ra­tio­nal,” she said.

“Since 2009, our costs have gone up enor­mously, some­times as high as 800 per cent.

“Un­less the Fed­eral Govern­ment takes this more se­ri­ously and comes up with some re­ally good so­lu­tions, it is hard to see how de­vel­op­ing north­ern Aus­tralia will suc­ceed.”

Ms Pentz said in­sur­ance was one of the big­gest bar­ri­ers in start­ing up small busi­nesses in the North West.

In­sur­ance Coun­cil of Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive Rob Whe­lan wel­comed the re­port, back­ing the task­force’s find­ings that mit­i­ga­tion was the only sus­tain­able way to ad­dress in­sur­ance prices.

“In­sur­ers have paid out more than $3.5 bil­lion to North Queens­land pol­i­cy­hold­ers since 2006 due to cy­clone dam­age alone,” he said.

“That is the fun­da­men­tal rea­son in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums have risen.

“Any strat­egy to re­duce prices must ad­dress this or it will fail.”

Mr Whe­lan said the in­dus­try was al­ready act­ing on calls to roll out prod­ucts which re­warded cus­tomers who took steps to make their prop­er­ties more cy­clone-re­silient.

Pil­bara Re­gional Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Tony Fri­day said it did not make sense for in­land ar­eas such as Mar­ble Bar and New­man to be sub­jected to the same build- ing stan­dards as the Pil­bara coast.

Other rec­om­men­da­tions such as a mu­tual or rein­sur­ance pool came with the caveat that, if im­ple­mented, they would come at “sig­nif­i­cant risk” to the Govern­ment and could not guar­an­tee sav­ings would be passed on to cus­tomers.

Mr Fri­day said the po­ten­tial for the rec­om­men­da­tions to ben­e­fit the pub­lic rested in the hands of the Fed­eral Govern­ment’s will­ing­ness to act. “As ex­pected they haven’t ad­dressed the ele­phant in the room which is what about peo­ple who don’t in­sure?” he said.

Do I think the task force has been a waste of time, though?

“No, I don’t be­cause we have a for­mal tem­plate there now.

“I’d like to see all of the rec­om­men­da­tions sub­ject to a de­tailed work­ing party, then pri­ori­tised on the ba­sis of time and ben­e­fit.”

Mr Fri­day said most peo­ple would be fine with pitch­ing in a bit ex­tra to their pre­mi­ums to help out the east coast, but a fair bal­ance needed to be found.

The Fed­eral Govern­ment is ex­pected to give a for­mal re­ply to rec­om­men­da­tions in the re­port by June 30.

Mem­ber for Durack Melissa Price de­clined to com­ment.

WA La­bor can­di­date for Durack Carol Martin failed to re­spond by time of print.

Pic­ture: Alex Massey

Par­doo Sta­tion af­ter cop­ping a di­rect hit from trop­i­cal cy­clone Rusty in 2013.

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