FEDERAL MP Warren Entsch says a move by the Insurance Council of Australia to hold town-hall meetings in the Far North next week is nothing but a “rear-guard action” intent on scaring consumers.
“These meetings are being held in Edmonton and Innisfail by the ICA, at the request of Kennedy MP Bob Katter, and apparently will be about ‘Developing a Way Forward in Insurance Affordability’,” Mr Entsch said.
“It’s rather bizarre.
“Bob Katter has been missing in action on this issue for the last four years; it has always been driven by myself and George Christensen MP (Dawson), Senator Ian Macdonald and the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Arthur Sinodinos.
“The ICA too has had all this time to offer solutions, yet I’ve been advised by Ministerial offices that to date, the ICA hasn’t presented them with any possible answers other than arguing for ‘mitigation, mitigation, mitigation’.
“In seeking answers, I suggest that the truth lies closer to the fact that some of the measures the government is now implementing are likely to have a significant negative impact on the insurance cartels that the ICA represents.”
Mr Entsch said effectively there were only two property insurers in Northern Australia – IAG and AAI – and each are earning record profits in our region, disproportionate to the profits they are earning in other parts of Australia.
“The fact that we are looking at allowing Unauthorised Foreign Insurers (UFIs) into the market, and also undertaking discussions about the effectiveness of a Northern Australia mutual, clearly poses a threat to the insurers’ profit margin.
“The aggregator website, which will be up next year, will shine a light on their business and provide a greater level of transparency.
“In my view their criticisms are more about a threat to their business than genuine concerns for the Northern Australian community.
“My message to the ICA is clear; don’t start a rear-guard action telling consumers in Far North Queensland that the government’s initiatives are dangerous it’s pure scaremongering because you’re afraid of competition in the market.”
Mr Entsch said he would like to see a copy of the ICA’s ‘possible solutions’ that will be presented at the meetings next week “given that I was not invited to the meeting”.
“Maybe the ICA should reconsider taking their staff in water taxis to harbour-side Sydney restaurants for Christmas lunches…. we’ve got pensioners who can’t afford to pay their body corporate fees because the insurance component has skyrocketed, reflecting the massive increase in profits for insurers and bonuses for senior executives.”