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Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Page: 5326


Mr ANDREWS (Menzies) (18:26): Speaking very briefly to the amendments I note the words of the parliamentary secretary in her summing up speech in relation to arrangements with the insurance industry as to alternative time frames being proposed by these amendments. I simply want to place on the record information provided to me just before I came into the House. I have not had an opportunity to compare what has been said to me with the amendments but I simply place on record that the industry, I am informed, have become aware of what they say is a major flaw in the legislation, with the debate resuming today. One part of the Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Further Election Commitments and Other Measures) Bill 2011 requires insurers as the payers of injury compensation to notify Centrelink two weeks before making payments. However, insurers have various state obligations to make payments to injured persons in a shorter time frame—for example, to pay weekly payments to injured workers within one week or to reimburse out-of-pocket medical expenses within a number of days. The upshot is that insurers could not possibly simultaneously comply with both Commonwealth and state regulations, putting them automatically in breach of one or both regulatory obligations or resulting in unnecessary delays to the payment of income support and other payments to injured workers and other injury compensation recipients.

So, as I said, given that this advice was provided to me just prior to walking into the chamber and not having had the opportunity to look in detail at what the amendments are, I seek some assurance from the government that the amendments do go to this issue. If the minister is not able to answer that now then to come back to me after today, otherwise we would obviously seek to have the matter examined in more detail when it goes to the Senate.