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Wednesday, 8 December 1976

Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr Eric Robinson (MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND) -In March 1976 the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) announced that the Government had decided in principle to introduce a natural disaster insurance scheme and had approved the establishment of a working party of officials to formulate a detailed scheme in consultation with the insurance industry. An assessment of the working party's report has recently been completed and the discussion paper now tabled is based on that report. The paper does not attempt to discuss the question of natural disaster crop insurance which is under separate consideration in conjunction with representatives of the insurance industry.

I should emphasise that, while the discussion paper outlines proposals for a scheme, the Government is not committed to these proposals, as it believes that final decisions on the detailed nature of the scheme should not be taken until all areas of government, interested business and community groups and the public generally have been given every opportunity to make their views known. With this in mind the Government is seeking comments on the proposal and issues discussed in the paper so that it can proceed further with the detailed development of a scheme.

In line with recommendations of the working party, the Government has agreed that technical aspects of the scheme should be worked out by a committee with the relevant expertise. The insurance industry will be represented on that committee. It should be noted that the studies already undertaken indicate that much planning and testing remain to be carried out before a scheme can be devised that will effectively meet the community's need for adequate protection against losses resulting from natural hazards. Although time-consuming, the Government sees this work as essential to the achievement of its aim to introduce a sound and effective scheme in Australia as soon as possible.

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