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Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Page: 14197


Ms O'TOOLE (Herbert) (10:42): I stand here today to say to the LNP government: how dare you not agree to more sitting days in order to enact the recommendations of the banking royal commission that would help protect Townsville residents from insurance companies after our worst ever weather event! There are people in Townsville who are trying to lodge insurance claims to fix the damage to their homes that have been destroyed. There are people trying to make claims for their furniture and belongings that have been ruined by floodwater. People are trying to get their lives back on track but are being given the run-around. People feel their claims are being ignored or denied by insurance companies when these insurance companies must pay up.

Labor has put multiple bills before this parliament that would enact recommendations from the banking royal commission, and one in particular would help Townsville residents right now. Right now, there is a bill that would give ASIC the power to have oversight over claims being handled by insurance companies. This bill is vital for Townsville's flood-affected victims who are right now fighting with their insurance companies.

Chris and Claire, in Bluewater, have two properties and have never made a claim. Their Bluewater property has been destroyed in the flood and this will be their first claim. On 11 February a construction company arrived at their house to pressure-wash the building. There had been no communication with them about this happening. Chris advised that they were waiting for the property to be cleared out; but, as the construction company did not have a scope of work or purchase order, they were unable to continue. An assessor came out on Tuesday, 12 February. The assessor got the amount of cover wrong and led Chris and Claire to believe they would receive more. A building inspector came with him but they were not able to access the house because it was unsafe to do so. The communication between the parties is poor and they only have a contact number for the insurance company.

Three weeks later their house remains full of wrecked furniture, a full fridge and freezer. The house has been completely taken over by mould. They have lost any chance they had to salvage some contents, given that they only received $16,000, minus excesses, for rebuilding their lives from scratch. All Chris and Claire want is to clear out their contents and to have the builders' assessments so that they can at least move forward. Both Chris and Claire have been unable to work since the event, as they wait every single day for the clearing out to start.

Labor has their back. We want to give ASIC more power to look after them and other Townsville residents affected by the floods, but the LNP government are refusing to protect Townsville residents. The LNP government clearly aren't a government for North Queensland. They are a government for banks and insurance companies. They have proven it time and time again. Townsville needs Labor's bill enacted now. People like Chris and Claire need ASIC protection now. How dare the LNP put insurance companies before Townsville flood victims? I demand that the LNP government extend parliament and pass this bill immediately.