Warning to industry on 'green slip' reform

Proposed NSW crash insurance changes are flawed and a threat to all who use roads, lawyer says

By Rob McKay | June 27, 2013

Criticism of the New South Wales Government’s ‘green slip’ crash insurance reform refuses to abate, with a leading lawyer in the state saying parts of the trucking industry stand to be disadvantaged.

Former NSW Law Society President and present Stacks/The Law Firm Chairman Maurie Stack says truck drivers should be particularly concerned about proposed changes to compulsory third party insurance, given that only a fraction of road accidents are their fault.

Stack has twice taken up the cudgels against the reform move, and is less than impressed by the way the controversial move has been handled.

Legislation was withdrawn from State Parliament last week after upper house crossbenchers signalled their opposition.

Its genesis has compounded scrutiny of troubled Finance Minister Greg Pearce.

"We’ve assumed for the last 70 years that our loss of earnings capacity and medical expenses would be covered," Stack says.

"But they won’t be after this. It will be cut off after five years for most people."

Stack sees this as an issue equally for fleet owners as private road users and drivers both as private and employed road users.

"Most truck drivers are professionals and they normally don’t cause the accident," he adds.

"If your drive carefully, that’s one thing, but you can’t avoid the other driver – and that’s why we’ve always had this fund; to protect you from the other driver."

Stack believes Premier Barry O’Farrell’s pledge to look again at the issue does not go nearly far enough, given an almost complete lack of consultation beyond perhaps elements of the insurance sector.

He believes all involved with the issue needed to negotiate properly and over time, as had happened in previous changes in 1998 and 2002.

"What’s proposed at the moment is a one-day forum in July . . . I think they need to start again," he says.

O’Farrell says the Bill will be held over until August.

Critics, including Injured Persons Association President Kieran Fraser, charge that, under the proposed 'no fault' system, the vast majority of innocent victims will lose their right to claim damages, with negligent drivers being a partial beneficiary.

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