ACCIDENTS AUTHORITY NSW BOARD MEMBER FOR TODAY’S SYDNEY MEETING
15 June 1999
Dear Member of MAA Board,
Thank you for taking the time to
consider the new Motor Accidents Compensation Bill 1999 from a
Before you read further, I wish to point
out that I recognise the new law will not be retrospective, and
the submission I make today is to protect those who will have
accidents in the future and who want guarantees that the green
slip premium paid will present rehabilitation, medical and care
solutions as promised.
The CTP policyholders’ major concern
is that the MAA must be required to give full and accurate
accountability and transparency of the Scheme. It seems
inconsistent to further cut benefits to the injured, since the
S.79 amendments means there are many less claims, particularly
over the last 12 months. What is actually happening? How much
money has been put aside in reserves and how much has been paid
I am therefore referring only to the
catastrophically injured, which is 0.1% of those who make claims.
As the Hon. J. J. Della Bosca (Special Minister of State, and
Assistant Treasurer) mentioned on page 5 of the second reading of
this Bill on 3 June, this represents 170 people per year in New
The anticipated change in this Bill gave
me the opportunity of looking closely at the new Bill and
expressing my concerns.
Before I do, however, I would like to
thank the Minister for his vision to protect New South Wales
motorists and appropriately reduce the cost of green slips. Also
my thanks to Mr Peter O’Donell of the NRMA and Jane Ferguson
for rewriting the old Section 81 (now new Section
140) Structured Settlements.
The Structured Settlement old
legislation was not rewritten to provide for the anticipated
amendments which will be legislated by the Federal Government in
the near future. The Structure Settlements Group, the Motor
Accidents Authority, the NSW Government and myself have endorsed
these changes. Thanks to David Bowen, Michelle Gardiner and Ellis
of the MAA for listening to me, and to Steve Mark, the Legal
Services Commissioner, who – like me – believes in less
litigation and more resolution and rehabilitation. (I was
delighted to listen to Steve Mark at the APLA seminar earlier
I believe the Minister will meet with me
this week as he will with the insurance General Managers and
other interested parties (refer timetable for the Bill).
As mentioned above, my concerns with the
new Bill are now as follows:
âPlease refer Chapter 5 “Award of Damages”:
Part 5.2 Damages for Economic Loss
122(2) “In the case of any such award, the court is to disregard the amount (if any) by which the injured or deceased person’s net weekly earnings would (but for the injury or death) have exceeded $1,200.”
this annually CPI-linked?
125 “Damages for economic loss – maximum amount for provision of certain attendant care services”
I understand this is the current legislation and my concern is that, several paragraphs further down the page (refer (4)(a) attendant services may not exceed 40 hours or the amount paid per week not in excess of the average weekly total earnings.
QUESTION: According to Michelle Gardiner, this is relevant only to family and friends who provide attendant care. Is this correct?
If not, what provisions are made for
24-hour care – or is that covered by common law?
QUESTION: Why is attendant care under
the heading “Economic Loss”? The relevant head of damage is
QUESTION: Clause 125(4)(a) appears to
have the effect of restricting attendant care severely (to less
than 40 hours per week maximum). Is this correct?
QUESTION: Re Clause 122(2), as
attendant care is under the heading “Economic Loss”, does
this impose a $1,200 per week cap on attendant care?
Please advise that 24-hour care
has not been restricted and will not be denied to future
catastrophically injured claimants.
âPart 8.2 Motor Accidents Council (page
I was shocked and in despair when I read
the Motor Accidents Council membership.
I understand that this yet-to-be-formed
Council is to advise the Authority and make lifelong medical,
rehabilitation and care decisions for claimants.
Please refer to Section 205 (page 119) of the Bill (“Membership and Procedure of Council”).
CONCERN: Of the 17 members, only 3 are health practitioners. I would have thought there only needs to be one representative from the insurance industry and one from a legal background. The other 15 should be health and rehabilitation practitioners, e.g. a psychologist, brain injury expert, back injury expert, medical specialist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, physiotherapist, vocational rehabilitation specialist, social worker. In addition, there should be a past plaintiff, an educator, conflict resolution expert, a budgetary expert, a person appointed by the Minister with such consumer organisations as the Minister considers appropriate and – of course – the General Manager of the Authority. This would total 17 members and would provide an expert holistic approach to ensure that each victim’s situation is truly considered by experts and not dictated to by insurers. It is the duty of the insurer to collect premiums and pay for what is fair and reasonable to ensure the needs are realistically met; it is not their duty to make lifelong decisions which really belong to the appropriate medical and rehabilitation experts.
QUESTION: Would you kindly
explain the rationale behind your original decision?
An idea for the future….
Perhaps one of the MAA projects
should be to complete a study of the lifelong and tragic effects
a serious car accident has on the structure of family. This
would assist the Council in making realistic and compassionate
In the meantime, I would like to applaud
you for the restructure of the Board to include members who have
a great understanding of disability.
I would appreciate a reply within 24
hours as I am meeting with the Minister and others this week.
In closing, I would like to invite all
the members of the MAA Board and interested family members to our
home “Kurrumin” on Tuesday 29 June or Tuesday
13 July at 3.30pm to meet our family and
learn first hand how important it is to have funds to ensure
Jackson and others like him have optimum opportunity for
recovery, quality of life, and age-appropriate lifestyle. (Of
course I realise this week is very busy because the Bill goes to
the Upper House with my and other amendments on 21 June 1999.)
I look forward to having my questions
answered during the course of this week. I also very much look
forward to you meeting Jackson in our home later this month.
P.S. Why the hurry to push through the legislation over the next couple of weeks? Surely something as important as the well being and livelihood of those injured in accidents should be carefully deliberated with all relevant parties, including those people I mentioned that must be on the MAA Council.
c.c. (e-mailed prior to the meeting)….
·The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca, Special Minister for State, and Assistant Treasurer
· Mr Steve Mark, Legal Services Commissioner
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