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Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Page: 5368

Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (21:40): I rise tonight to speak on the issue of flood insurance, and it brings me no joy to do so because this is not a good news story. The way an insurance company is treating its clients in the town of Carisbrook has to end. Enough is enough. The time has come to treat these people with the respect that they deserve. It is now over four months since the worst floods in 100 years to hit Victoria happened, yet these residents of Carisbrook still do not know if they will get their claims paid or if they will get them paid fully. I stand here tonight to say: stop the paper shuffling, process the claims and let these people get on with their lives.

On Tuesday, 19 April, Senator Gary Humphries, the coalition spokesperson for flood recovery, and I visited the town of Carisbrook. Upon arriving we were greeted with the front page newspaper headline of the Carisbrook Mercury—'AAMI unlucky for residents.' After numerous representations to AAMI and the Insurance Council of Australia, tragically this headline still rings true. I stand here tonight to call on AAMI to stop the rot and do the right thing by these residents who have suffered for too long. Dealing with destructive floodwaters is bad enough, let alone having to deal with what seems to be bureaucracy gone mad.

On that day—Tuesday, 19 April—I had the privilege of calling in to meet Kirsty and Brett May and their children. They are a young family, making their way in a small rural community, who had paid their insurance in good faith. Kirsty and Brett showed Senator Humphries and me the damage that had been done to their four bedrooms, and the mattresses on the floor where their children were now sleeping. They also explained how Brett was on a military pension, having been medically discharged and in need of a knee replacement. Kirsty and Brett had suffered flooding to their wonderful family home and were seeking to see their claim honoured by AAMI. Sadly, they had already been informed that their house had not suffered from 'storm water damage' although their shed had. As ludicrous as this might sound, it is true. Kirsty and Brett took photos of the floodwater in their house that morning, yet they were told that the flooding that had occurred in their house was a result of 'riverine flooding' that did not occur until that afternoon. I saw those photos and also spoke to the shire chief engineer, who was present on the morning the May house was flooded. After seeing this photographic evidence and talking to the chief engineer, I, along with Gary Humphries, immediately made the Insurance Council of Australia and AAMI aware of these facts. Yet here we are on the last day of May, over six weeks later, and the Mays are still none the wiser as to whether AAMI are going to honour the contract they had with them for 'storm water flood' insurance.

I spoke to Kirsty May today and remarkably, given the enormous stress that she and her family are under, she retains a sense of humour. How this is the case is beyond me, but her resilience is something which I have seen writ large across flood affected communities in Victoria and it never ceases to amaze me. But enough is enough. AAMI need to act and they need to act now. The Mays and all the other AAMI clients in Carisbrook deserve to know what the company is going to do. They need to know immediately; otherwise the process of ICA and their affiliates for dealing with insurance claims in flood affected areas of Victoria is not worth the paper it is written on. (Time expired)