MEMBER for Leichhardt Warren Entsch is stunned that fellow MP Bob Katter has launched a State election policy to solve Queensland’s insurance woes when he has avoided dealing with the problem for the past year.
Mr Katter last week said his party of state election candidates would establish a State Government insurance firm to ensure premiums were affordable.
Mr Entsch said his federal North Queensland counterpart was simply trotting out a populist policy in a desperate bid to secure votes for his candidates.
“I find it amusing that Bob Katter has decided to stick his two bob’s worth into the insurance issue facing North Queenslanders, particularly as he has shown no interest in helping solve the problem since it arose,” Mr Entsch said.
“However, one thing I can say about Bob, is that he is consistent.
“He’s launching a policy on a complex issue he knows little about and it would appear he is just trying to secure votes for his state election candidates.
” It’s not as simple as saying the State Government should re-establish its own insurance agency, even though that may well form part of the solution.
“But it’s not the silver bullet.
“Given he is openly boasting that his party will next govern Queensland, he needs to be asked to provide comprehensive, costed plans on his proposed solution and let’s see how it stacks up, at which time I’d be happy to make an informed comment about his solution.
Mr Entsch began investigating massive rises in body corporate and strata title insurance premiums after his office was bombarded with complaints from unit owners and complex managers, and raised the problem in Federal Parliament.
“I have been successful in getting an inquiry launched into the insurance market failure affecting the region,” he said.
“We’ve had hearings in Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville and Mackay, and two in Canberra.
“There has been no sign of Bob, either in his presence or through a submission.
“I have been working on this issue for a year, was instrumental in establishing the current Strata Title Insurance in Northern Australia Inquiry, along with Member for Dawson George Christensen, joined the committee and have attended all hearings and meetings for this inquiry.
“If Bob had had any interest or involvement he’d know we’re already in communication with the Northern Territory’s TIO and I have provided information to the committee on what the Thai government has legislated after facing a similar insurance market failure in the wake of their recent floods, what the Japanese government is proposing following their earthquakes and tsunami and what the New Zealand government has enacted following their earthquakes, as we examine all options in putting forward recommendations to address the obvious insurance market failure of a number of various types of insurance across Northern Australia.”
The inquiry committee was preparing a report to hand down in the next few months in an attempt to resolve the matter for aggrieved unit owners and managers, Mr Entsch said.
“The committee itself recognises the gravity and urgency of this issue and is endeavouring to hand down its recommendations by early April,” he said.
“At that time we will be in a position to make informed decisions on policy direction that will make a huge difference on the future affordability of insurance across all sectors in Northern Australia.
“And if Bob has something he feels he can contribute, if he hurries, he still has an opportunity to submit his contribution to the secretary of the committee and it will certainly be considered in the final deliberations.”