FEDERAL Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has dismissed criticism by Cairns Regional Councillor Richie Bates, saying the comments only illustrate Cr Bates’ lack of knowledge on the insurance issue.
“As far as I’m aware, this is the first time that Cr Bates has made a public comment on insurance, but I think he would have been better off doing some background checking first,” Mr Entsch said.
“There’s been plenty of coverage in local media about the initiatives that the Coalition Government has got underway since the election 18 months ago and the Budget 10 months ago.
“The Aggregator website, which will compare insurance products for property owners, is due at the end of this month. It’ll make it easier for property owners to search for a policy by comparing insurers, and increase transparency in the process.
“Treasury is also advancing the commitment to allow Unauthorised Foreign Insurers into the market, and will be working with the new Queensland Government on how best to distribute the $12.5m for strata property engineering inspections.
“Nothing like this was even considered by the previous Labor Government, which sat on its hands for three years and basically ignored the recommendations that came out of the In the Wake of Disasters inquiry.
“It’s all very well for Richie to loyally wave his political colours but if he truly has the needs of Cairns residents at heart, he needs to make sure his criticism is targeted at the right party.”
Mr Entsch reiterated that he is happy to work with any state members as long as they take the time to come and talk to him about the insurance crisis.
“Insurance has been an issue for over four years now, yet none of our new state members came up with any sort of solution or policy proposal during their campaign.
“They have little understanding of the complexities and legislative challenges in dealing with this issue, yet are quick to say ‘It’s a problem, let’s fix it!’ in the media.
“Richie points to Cairns Regional Council’s flood mitigation works, however these will only be effective for relatively small areas around local waterways in Cairns itself. For the rest of the Far north, and northern Australia, flood is not a major problem it’s all perceived cyclone risk.
“As I’ve said before, there’s no silver bullet on insurance, it’s going to require long-term initiatives at the Federal, State and Local Government levels together with major improvements in the way the insurance industry calculates cyclone risk and uses flood mapping data.
“Just this week, I’ve presented a proposal to the Assistant Treasurer which could see the establishment of a new product that is specific to meet Northern Australia’s insurance needs.
“In the meantime, I’ll continue to work with government at all levels on initiatives that will increase transparency and competition in the market.”