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Tuesday, 2 December 2003
Page: 23455

Mr ROSS CAMERON (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (4:31 PM) —I have listened with interest to the member for Kingston, who is putting the proposition that there is no real risk of regulatory arbitrage, of forum shopping, of litigants moving to the forum in which they believe the die is weighted more heavily in their favour. I note simply that the ACCC themselves, who one would think have the strongest interest in preserving the act in its current form, have acknowledged that the lawyers will often plead liability under the Trade Practices Act for misleading or deceptive conduct as an alternative to liability in negligence. If there was little scope for one course of action to be substituted for the other, one might ask why they are so frequently pleaded in the alternative.

It was not the government who identified this gap in the regulatory net, if you like, in our efforts to make insurance more available to more Australians. It was, as I stated earlier, Justice Ipp in his review of the law of negligence, which was embraced and adopted by all nine of Australia's governments—each of the state and territory governments and the Commonwealth. It is, we believe, a practical, necessary step to avoid the risk. The member for Kingston points out that there is not a lot of evidence that this has taken place to date. The point of the government's measure is to avoid the potential which was identified, as I said, not by the government in the first instance but by Justice Ipp. We regard this as an act of good faith. It is for those reasons that we are rejecting the amendments of the opposition, which will water down the effects of state and territory tort law reform and continue to place insurance beyond the reach of ordinary Australians.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)—The question is that the amendments be disagreed to.

Question agreed to.