Australian Structured Settlements
Deputy Treasurer Rod Kemp meets Jackson and Judie - 16 July 1999
Judie Stephens and interested parties made a proposal to the Australian Government for Structured Settlements. Please click Here to direct you to this proposal, but also click Here to view the proposal in HTML format.
Judie's mission and vision is to ensure that all injured and compensated people in Australia have the opportunity and choice of Structured Settlements. Her time frame for this legislation is the National Budget in the Year 2000. She is available to speak to interested groups and write articles.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Prime Minister - Fax 02 6273 4100
Danna Vale MP - e-mail email@example.com
Jackson Paul - e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Imagine! I was your infant son, orphaned and brain injured because of a tragic car accident.
Kindly read the Structured Settlements Proposal, a tax reform to benefit accident victims and all taxpaying Australians. Look especially at Sarah's tragic story on page six………
A structured settlement for her care would save our
government over thirty-eight million dollars during her lifetime.
This proposal is made by Australian Plaintiff Lawyers Association, Law Council of Australia, Injuries Australia, Insurance Council of Australia Limited and United Medical Protection and my grandmother, (now my Mum) Judie Stephens.
In June, our Prime Minister and Federal Parliament have discussed these issues with Danna Vale MP Member for Hughes. We also met with the media at Parliament House, Canberra on Friday 25 June 1999.
I want, and others like me, the choice of Structured Settlements and lifetime financial security.
Please write to our Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. John Howard MP, Prime Minister, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia expressing your support of Structured Settlements. Please send a copy of your letter by e-mail to Jackson and Danna Vale MP, Federal Member for Hughes.
I send my love and best wishes to you and those you love,
(Written for me by Judie Stephens)
PS Please share this proposal with others to ensure that there are many approaches to our Prime Minister.
Structured Settlements available by Choice for all Compensated Injured Australians
Judie with John Laws on Foxtel TV, discussing Structured Settlements
Judie's lobby is now to focus on Structured Settlements, where payments are made to an injured person who receives compensation because of a motor vehicle accident, medical negligence or worker's compensation. A Structured Settlement provides tax free interest for claimants who are catastrophically injured and choose to have periodic payments to provide for attendant care, medical, rehabilitation and living expenses for the term of their life. This is in conjunction with a lump sum and decided at the time of settlement. Structured Settlements is a tax initiative that is now used in the USA, Canada, and the UK very successfully and is most relevant to catastrophically injured people.
Judie had the opportunity of researching Structured Settlements internationally and then consulted with Jane Ferguson who is a Sydney lawyer dedicated to ensuring Structured Settlements are available by choice to all injured Australians who receive compensation.
On Friday 25 June 1999, Judie Stephens and supporters of Structured Settlements went to Canberra. In Canberra Mrs Danna Vale, Member of Parliament and Federal Member for Hughes, arranged a meeting with senior advisors of our National Treasury. The following is an extract of the presentation Mrs Vale made to Parliament on 23 June:
House Hansard 23-06-1999 Page 5675
Mrs Vale (Hughes)(9:41p.m) - I rise tonight to bring to the attention of this honourable House and to the people of Australia the launch of a very important proposal for tax reform which will be of significant benefit to accident victims and their families, to the federal government and to all taxpaying Australians. This is the story about a little boy called Jackson, who is driving a special group of people called the Structural Settlement Group, a national body whose members have come to an historic agreement, rare as a confluence of mutual interest in the disparate important tax initiative for all Australians.
I first met Jackson about two years ago when he was four at his preschool called Heathdene in my electorate Heathcote. This is Jackson's story and through his grandmother, my Friend Judie Stephens, he would like to tell this House:
Hello Australia. My name is Jackson. I was three months old and my brothers Matthew, David and I were on holidays when our parents were killed. Matthew and David are OK, but in the accident I was brain injured. I am a quadriplegic blind and just learning to talk. On my next birthday I will be six. I live with my grandmother, Judie Stephens. She looks after me and she also spends a lots of time making things better for me and people like me. My grandmother wrote this for me because she understand so well.
My friend Judie Stephens, Jackson's incredible grandmother, is a woman of tremendous personal strength and great purpose. She has written to me and I think her words should be recorded in the Hansard because it is a story of great human tragedy and inspired human effort. This is Judie's story:
Five years ago my daughter and son-in-law were killed in a car accident. The accident left Jackson with catastrophic injuries. Jackson is entitled to compensation for his injuries. His legal case is not yet resolved, but in the meantime I have become an expert in Australian compensation law because of the long litigation trail. Jackson is entitled to lump sum compensation. His compensation payment will need to support him for the rest of his life Jackson must never be a financial liability to the Australian taxpayers and his compensation must pay for his medical, rehab and care to ensure he has optimum opportunity to recover and quality of life.
I am gravely concerned about Jackson's future. I am 55 this year and Jackson is only 5.
Several years ago, I researched the concept of structured settlements. I realised their importance and value immediately - not just for Jackson but for all people who receive compensation. Structured settlements are a way of paying common law compensation [start page 5676} for personal injury. They are an optional arrangement whereby a claimant can choose to receive their compensation in the form of a lump sum combined with periodci payments for life, In cases involving serious injuries, where the injured person will have lifelong care needs, then periodic payments may be more appropriate than a single lump sun and should be available as a matter of choice.
Every year, many people are seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents, at the workplace, by medical negligence and in other circumstances. Making sure that their compensation payments provide an adequate income for life is an enormous challenge. The current tax law in Australia encourages accident victims to take their compensation in the form of a lump sum. It encourages then to spend it quickly, rather than invest it and earn interest that would be taxable. There is no tax incentive to make lifelong financial plans. Overseas, governments in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada have realised that it is in their best interests to encourage structured settlements. They have made the interest component of structured settlements tax free. Their tax acts have been amended to ensure that claimants do not double dip into social security and Medicare. This saves them million of dollars.
Structured settlements are win-win-win. They are good for the accident victims, good for government and good for defendant insurers. They are also seen as a valuable tool to help settle cases at reduced costs. They make excellent social and economic sense. I hope our federal government will embrace this concept and make the minor change necessary to the Australian tax act so that Jackson and people like him will never have to be supported by the Australian taxpayer.
There is enormous support in Australia for structured settlements. I have been working closely with the New South Wales Motor Accidents Authority and the Structured Settlement Group, led by Jane Ferguson. The Structured Settlement Group is a national body. Members of the group are the most important national organisations involved in compensation:the Insurance Council of Australia, the Law Council of Australia, Injuries Australia, the Australian Plaintiff Lawyers Association and United Medical Protection.
On Friday, 25 June 1999, in Parliament House committee room 1R6 at 10 a.m., we will proudly launch the Structured Settlements Proposal - A Tax Reform Proposal to Benefit Accident Victims and All Tax Paying Australians. I wish to add my gratitude for the availability of senior staff in the Prime Minister's office, the office of the Minister for Family and Community Services and the office of the Assistant Treasurer, and I look forward with considerable hope to the government being suitably convinced as to the merit and value of this important tax reform initiative.
The group's Law Reform Proposal was discussed. Over the last few months there have been a number of media releases in Australia endorsing the great value of allowing victims the choice of Structured Settlements:
12 March 1999: ABC, National Radio
20 April 1999: John Laws Foxtel, International TV
22 June 1999: The Melbourne Age Newspaper, page 7
24 June 1999: ABC 7:30 Report, National TV
26 June 1999: The Canberra Times Newspaper, page 3
26 June 1999: The Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper, page 13
26 June 1999: 2UE 11:30 am, National Radio
26 June 1999: Channel 10 News, National TV
15 July 1999: St. George and Sutherland Shire Leader Newspaper, pages 8 and 9
All Australians are encouraged to lobby the Federal Government to ensure social and economic justice prevails.
For further information on Structured Settlements:
The History of Structured Settlements in USA.
Structured Settlements Library
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