Canberra’s CTP insurance scheme could be better with small changes: experts

Two experts who will give evidence before the ACT compulsory third party insurance scheme citizen jury say the territory’s existing system could be improved with minor tweaks.

Canberra’s citizen jurors will hear from lawyers, academics and actuaries in the second stage of the deliberative democracy pilot this weekend. 

The jury met for the first time earlier this month, where they were given a crash course in CTP insurance and heard from legal groups, insurers and healthcare consumer associations about pros and cons of different schemes.

Jurors will this weekend be presented with modelling from Ernst and Young of different schemes based on other jurisdictions

They will also hear about the trade-offs associated with different schemes. 

Monash senior lecturer Dr Genevieve Grant, whose research focuses on how people navigate the complex claims processes, said some schemes were more intimidating than others. 

The ACT’s common law system typically meant people needed legal advice from the outset, Dr Grant said, whereas in other schemes people could take those early steps on their own. 

However, Dr Grant said moving to a no-fault scheme was not a better solution.

“It’s not just a choice between no-fault and fault-based schemes,’ Dr Grant said.

“Sometimes people think no-fault schemes mean no disputes or fights, and everything is straightforward.

“Whatever the scheme design there are opportunities to do things better and opportunities to do things less well.”

Dr Grant said there was scope within the ACT’s current scheme to give people more advice and support within the early stages of making a claim and show them what steps they needed to take. 

Barrister Andrew Stone said the ACT had the “best scheme in the country in terms of compensating victims”.

“The two big trade-offs are premium versus benefits and fault versus no-fault,” Mr Stone said.

“In terms of premiums the ACT has one of more expensive but it also looks after accident victims better than any other state.

“If I knew I going to be in motor vehicle accident and had to pick a state to be injured in, I’d pick the ACT.”

Mr Stone said the cost-savings of a capped scheme were “small” compared to the “catastrophic” consequences of being underinsured.

​He said no-fault schemes in workers’ compensation had “stuffed” people who could not return to work because of their injuries. 

“​We all live in a state of denial that it could be us, so it’s about persuading the majority to design a scheme to look after a small minority on basis it might be you, your partner, or your child,” Mr Stone said.

“If it’s a no-fault scheme, where you look after everybody including people who cause accidents, then you have to look after everyone less well, you double the number of people you’re making payments to and if you want to do it on the same premium you’re effectively halving the benefits.

“It would cost over $1000 a premium to provide no-fault benefits at the current rate.”

Meanwhile Canberra lawyers are continuing their crusade to prevent changes to the existing CTP scheme.

A spokeswoman for said more than $55,000 had been spent on radio and print advertisements as well as their website. 

Here’s how Barnaby Joyce reacted to news of his disqualification

Updated October 27, 2017 15:58:53

A somewhat shell-shocked Barnaby Joyce has faced the press after learning the High Court has disqualified him from Parliament for being a dual citizen.

The former deputy prime minister now must fight a by-election for his seat of New England on December 2.

Here’s what he said to the media in his home town of Tamworth, directly after the High Court decision.

‘In my gut, I thought this is the way it was going to go’

Mr Joyce admitted the ruling did not come as a complete shock.

“Some people say I am a natural pessimist. I am naturally cautious. I was always prepared for this outcome. I don’t actually stand here totally surprised.”

‘Nick, do you want to swap?’

Mr Joyce offered his congratulations to Senators Matt Canavan and Nick Xenophon, whose citizenship doubts have now been cleared, and the latter of whom is voluntarily stepping down to seek election in South Australia’s State Parliament.

“Nick, do you want to swap?” he joked.

“I get the chance of a by-election, Fiona doesn’t. I’d like to offer my support to senator Fiona Nash.”

‘It is a tough game, politics’

“Really tough. Of course it is tough … You dedicate so much of your time to it. You take the hits and the sacrifices. We all buy the ticket, we know the risks.”

Tamworth born and bred

“I had no reason to believe I was a citizen of any other country but Australia.”

Mr Joyce gestured at the New England countryside around him.

“I was born just there. Just there. I grew up over there.”

‘I’m not going to second-guess the High Court’

“I respect their decision. They have made it. They will get on to other jobs and I will get onto mine, putting myself to the people of New England as a candidate to continue my work as I have been doing for them for the past four years.”

Topics: government-and-politics, political-parties, nationals, constitution, canberra-2600, tamworth-2340, australia

First posted October 27, 2017 15:12:04

Pro-life supporters to argue Canberra law breaches constitution

Three pro-life supporters fined after holding prayer vigils in Canberra’s abortion clinic exclusion zone will argue the law breaches the Australian constitution when they fight the charges next month, a court has heard.

Kerry Mellor, 76, John Popplewell, 76, and Ken Clancy, 78, have pleaded not guilty to charges of being in a protected area and engaged in prohibited behaviour under the territory’s health laws.

Mr Mellor, Mr Popplewell and Mr Clancy are members of a Catholic prayer group that has gathered for years and held vigils at the site of the ACT Health building on Moore Street, Civic.

In March last year, the ACT parliament passed an amendment to health laws that banned prohibited behaviour, including protesting, in a protected zone, and imposed hefty fines for a breach.

The group continued to gather at the site, and police later fined the three men $750 each. Prosecutors became involved when the three men refused to pay and said they would challenge the fines in court.

At a brief mention on Thursday, the court heard the men would argue the exclusion zone law breaches the constitution.

Prosecutor James Walker said the three men would challenge the law’s constitutionality on the basis it breached the implied freedom of political communication and that it imposed on the free exercise of religion.

He said the state, territory and federal attorneys-general had received notices about the constitutional arguments, though each had declined at this point to intervene in the case.

He said the men would also raise questions about human rights, and mount a challenge to the lawfulness of the health minister’s decision to declare a protected area around the clinic.

The prosecutor said some members of the prayer group had refused to give police statements but would be called to give evidence.

The three men were not present at the mention on Thursday but were legally represented.

The court heard the men will be represented at the three day hearing in the ACT Magistrates Court by local silk John Purnell SC.

The case goes to hearing on November 6.

Canberra teenager admits to violent home invasion

Updated October 26, 2017 13:31:46

A 19-year-old from Canberra has pleaded guilty to a terrifying home invasion involving a tyre iron, knife and baseball bat, which left two people seriously injured.

Sugimatatihuna Mena and another man entered a flat at the back of a Kaleen property in May, armed with the weapons.

Three people were in the flat at the time, watching a movie.

Court documents revealed that in a fight that followed, one victim was stabbed in the arm and another in the back.

Police said the victims fought back, hitting both Mena and the other man with the bat to drive them off, before chasing them up the road.

The court documents state that it was not until then that the man who had been stabbed in the back realised he had been injured.

His friends carried him into the main house, where they tried to stem the bleeding with a tea towel.

The man had suffered a punctured lung.

Mena was identified by police from blood found at the scene.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of assault causing actual bodily harm, recklessly causing grievous bodily harm and trespassing with intent to commit a robbery.

He will appear in the ACT Supreme Court for sentencing later this year.

Topics: courts-and-trials, law-crime-and-justice, crime, canberra-2600, act, australia

First posted October 26, 2017 13:30:24

ACT driver caught speeding at 163km/h on Federal Highway

New South Wales police have clocked an ACT driver speeding on the Federal Highway near Collector at 163km/h.

The driver, who was busted by Goulburn Highway Patrol on Wednesday morning, was fined $2384 and had their NSW driving privileges immediately suspended for six months. They were also docked six demerit points.

The incident comes after a 23-year-old provisional driver was clocked in the same area at 185km/h on Sunday night. He faced an immediate six-month licence suspension, and was arrested later that night for driving while suspended. 

Fish statue drug smuggler weeps at 10-year sentence

By Aarti Betigeri

Updated October 25, 2017 14:14:37

A Nigerian national has collapsed in tears in the ACT Supreme Court, after being handed a 10-and-a-half-year jail term for importing more than 10 kilograms of methamphetamine into Australia.

Jackson Igwebuike, 34, had hidden the drugs inside ornate gold fish-shaped statues, and was arrested in a police sting in 2015.

In court today he cried as Justice Hilary Penfold read out the sentence, then sobbed loudly as guards led him out.

Justice Penfold told the court that, according to documents and letters submitted by the defence team, Igwebuike was socially isolated in the Alexander Maconochie Centre jail and in Canberra, as all his family remains in Nigeria and he is culturally different to other prisoners.

She said he would most likely be deported back to Nigeria upon his release.

Igwebuike was found guilty by a jury on charges of importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug in August.

The quantity of drugs involved had a street value of about $10 million.

Igwebuike caught in police sting

The drugs were discovered by Australian Border Force officials inside golden statues of fish that arrived on a crate from China in October 2015.

Police had swapped the drugs out for a substitute, then put the statues back together and tracked it as it arrived at an address in Canberra.

Igwebuike was arrested later that month as he tried to board a bus from Canberra to Sydney. In his suitcase police found 43 packages of the drug substitute.

Igwebuike claimed he knew nothing of the drugs, and that two men had threatened to “destroy him” if he didn’t take the packages to Sydney.

However Justice Penfold said she was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt he was to receive a payment for transporting the packages.

Igwebuike arrived in Canberra on a student visa to study at the University of Canberra, however the visa has since been cancelled.

Citing defence submissions, Justice Penfold said Igwebuike had been an exemplary prisoner during his time in jail, where he works in the prison kitchen.

She said he had reported being depressed and lonely, and spent all his earnings on phone calls to his family in Nigeria.

Igwebuike said he was expected to provide for his blind and ageing father, and due to his incarceration, his brother has been forced to leave university.

While Justice Penfold sympathised with his plight and family’s situation, she pointed out that a crime of the magnitude Igwebuike had committed might otherwise attract a life sentence.

Igwebuike will serve a minimum non-parole sentence of six-and-a-half years and, including the two years he has already spent behind bars, meaning he could be released in April 2022.

Topics: courts-and-trials, law-crime-and-justice, drugs-and-substance-abuse, community-and-society, canberra-2600, act, australia

First posted October 25, 2017 14:07:58

Richardson man bailed after alleged stabbing of ‘good samaritan’

A Richardson man fronted court on Tuesday accused of stabbing a “good samaritan” who intervened in an argument between him and his girlfriend.

Troy Michael Kennewell, 19, and his girlfriend were at a Kambah house party on Saturday night when they left and fought about allegations of infidelity, court documents suggest.

The argument caught the attention of a passerby, who later told police he had heard a woman scream on Kingsmill Street.

He walked up to the fence and looked over and saw a man push a woman in the chest and the woman fall to the ground.

He approached the man, who police allege was Mr Kennewell, who told him, “she f—en cheated on me”.

The good samaritan said he replied, “so what?”

After that he said he felt three pushes from the man before he ran off.

“He stated that his arm went cold and at first he thought he had been punched,” the documents say.

“He then saw blood on his shoulder and realised he had been stabbed.”

He said he felt like he was going to die and it was not until paramedics arrived he felt he may survive.

Police say when they arrived they found a man with stab wounds to his wrist, and to his shoulder and abdomen which were “bleeding profusely”.

Officers say during an inspection of the crime scene they found a bag with Mr Kennewell’s driver’s licence and a gold flick knife. The knife did not have any visible blood on it.

Mr Kennewell, a student at CIT, later went to the police station and said he had been drunk and blacked out the night of October 21.

He was later arrested.

Prosecutors on Tuesday opposed Mr Kennewell’s release on bail, citing a risk he would fail to appear at court and interfere with evidence and witnesses.

The prosecutor noted the knife apparently used in the alleged attack had not been found.

He said the difficulty in releasing Mr Kennewell was drafting bail conditions that would mitigate the risks posed by the young man.

“We’ve got an angry, drunk and violent young man who responds to a good samaritan by stabbing him in the chest,” the prosecutor said.

But the man’s defence solicitor said this was his man’s first time in custody and he had voluntarily gone to the police station when he was arrested.

She said he had a limited criminal history and no history of breaching bail or failing to attend court.

Magistrate Karen Fryar said she would grant Mr Kennewell bail to live at his mother’s house in Young.

She said given the allegations as set out in the police statement of facts Mr Kennewell was lucky the incident was not more serious than it was.

Ms Fryar imposed bail conditions including that he report three times a week to police and not drink alcohol.

He is also not to contact the alleged victim or witnesses or enter Kambah.

Mr Kennewell is charged with negligent act causing grievous bodily harm and intentional wounding.

He has not entered pleas.

The alleged victim has had surgery and is in a stable condition, the documents say.

The injury to his abdomen was deemed non-life threatening but the man required stitches to the deep cut on his left deltoid.

He will require at least six weeks of physio.

The case is next due in court on November 14.

Louie the Fly added to Sounds of Australia collection

Updated October 24, 2017 15:15:39

From the rubbish tip to the archives, Louie the Fly has made his mark on the National Film and Sound Archive’s iconic Sounds of Australia collection.

Australia’s longest running ad campaign, for pest control product maker Mortein, has landed on the iconic list recognising recordings that have had an impact on Australian culture.

Bad and mean and mighty unclean, Louie landed on our screens, and hearts, 60 years ago.

The song was sung by the late Ross Higgins, also the star of 1980s sitcom Kingswood Country.

“I think he’d be surprised and amazed that an ad like that becomes historically and culturally important, and he’d be very pleased,” Scott Higgins, Ross’s son, told the NFSA.

The blowfly is the embodiment of the Australian character: a larrikin and an underdog, his buzzing wings themselves a sound that reminds Australians of home.

Louie has so endeared himself to the nation that his Facebook page has more likes than Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s.

In fact, when Mortein announced they would be giving Louie the spray a few years ago there was a public campaign to save it.

Now Louie’s legacy is safe for good, with his 1962 jingle joining Slim Dusty, The Easybeats and Gough Whitlam’s dismissal speech as sounds that have changed Australia’s history.

Late George Young also honoured in 2017 list

Love Is In The Air, the 1977 disco number late George Young penned alongside Harry Vanda for John Paul Young, also scored a spot in this year’s collection.

This year’s Sounds of Australia:

  • 1910: Sweet Spirit Hear My Prayer – Marie Narelle
  • 1930: Our Don Bradman – Len Maurice
  • 1940-58: Australia’s Amateur Hour – AWA
  • 1957: ‘Louie the Fly’ Mortein Advertisement – Ross Higgins
  • 1962: I Remember You – Frank Ifield
  • 1966: Play School Theme (There’s a Bear in There) – Various Performers
  • 1977: Love Is In The Air – John Paul Young
  • 1981: Brand New Day (Milliya Rumarra) – Kuckles
  • 1982: Don’t Change – INXS
  • 2001: Not Pretty Enough – Kasey Chambers

George Young, a pioneer of Australian music as a member of The Easybeats and producer for AC/DC, died this week aged 70.

Speaking about the hit’s honourable recognition, John Paul Young said it was the cherry on top of its long-lasting success.

“I can only thank Harry Vanda and George Young for their hard work during my association with them and for giving me a lasting career,” he said in a statement.

Each year since 2007, the Australian public had nominated potential additions to the Sounds of Australia collection, with a panel of industry experts determining final selections.

Other recordings that made the 2017 list include Our Don Bradman by Len Maurice, the Play School Theme and Kasey Chambers’ Not Pretty Enough.

Topics: television-broadcasting, broadcasting, television, information-and-communication, arts-and-entertainment, music-industry, industry, canberra-2600, act, australia

First posted October 24, 2017 13:10:54

Census 2016: Canberra leads the nation for riding to work

Not many people choose the long way home from work.

But as one of a growing number of Canberrans riding a bike everyday, Bella Molloy regularly opts for the scenic route home around Lake Burley Griffin.

“I had been riding since I was a kid and like most Australians I stopped when I was a teenager and started driving a car,” she said.

“In my early 20s I took it up again, originally mountain biking, but then found a passion I forgot I’d had.”

Monday’s release of new 2016 census data showed Canberra leads the nation on riding and walking to work, along with a 5 percentage point increase in the number of people who report driving or being a car passenger.

In 2016, 74.9 per cent of ACT residents reported driving to work, up from 69.3 per cent in 2011.

A further 8.4 per cent said they rode a bike or walked and 7.1 per cent said they used trains or buses.

The proportion of Canberrans riding to work has grown steadily from 2.1 per cent in 2006 and 2.4 per cent in 2011.

As the ACT government promotes active travel options and encourages commuters to look for alternatives to their car, Ms Molloy said Canberra was the best place in Australia to be a cyclist commuter.

A Pedal Power ACT member, she said her commute can be as little as 10 minutes door-to-door, but sometimes she adds a lap of the lake to take advantage of the daylight saving and warmer weather.

“It can be a bit daunting, with people worried about how they’ll get there, what to do once they’re at work, what they’ll wear, what about the rain and the cold.

“But once you get riding, you find it’s so easy and sets you up for the day energising,” she said.

Nationally, driving remains the most popular way to get to work as 6.5 million people or 69 per cent of the working population report driving.

A further 5 per cent or 490,000 people travelled as a passenger on census day.

The cycling advocacy group’s Cycle Works program aims to increase the number of people who ride to work in Canberra and to raise awareness of how healthy and active living can be incorporated into a busy lifestyle.

It starts again next month.

Ms Molloy said riding was good for her physical and mental health and could be quicker than taking her car.

“I find I either solve problems or forget about problems when I’m on my bike,” she said.

“My cycle commute to work gets me ready for the day, my cycle home gets me ready for the evening.”

Census program manager Bindi Kindermann said the latest Census insights were important in helping governments plan services for communities.

“From how people get to work, to what they are studying, what their jobs are and where people are moving to, this census information tells us so much about the lives of people in the ACT,” Ms Kindermann said.

“While car use remained by far the most common, as was the case nationally, it had the lowest percentage increase of 5 per cent.”

Think you’re working longer hours than ever? Census data says you’re wrong

Updated October 23, 2017 14:56:33

Australians are working fewer hours per week than they were in 2011, according to new 2016 Census results released today.

Key points:

  • Average working week drops by 30 minutes
  • Employed women twice as likely to do 15+ hours of domestic work than men
  • More Australians than ever have post-school and postgraduate qualifications

Census data from 2016 showed the average paid working week for Australians was 34.6 hours — down from 35.1 hours in 2011.

More extreme working weeks were also down, with 25.7 per cent of Australians reportedly working more than 41 hours per week in 2016, compared to 28.8 per cent in 2011.

According to the data, women worked an average of 30 paid hours per week and men 39 hours.

And there were still noticeable gender differences in occupations — with men making up 84 per cent of technicians and trade workers, while 74 per cent of health professionals were women.

Truck drivers, electricians and carpenters were among popular occupations for men, while nurses, clerks and receptionists were among the most common jobs for women.

Census program manager Bindi Kindermann said female involvement in the workforce was increasing — up from just 34 per cent in 1966 for those over the age of 15, to 56 per cent in 2016.

For men that number is decreasing — 84 per cent of all men were employed in 1966, compared to 65 per cent in 2016.

The largest overall occupation category for Australians was professionals, which accounted for 21 per cent of the nation’s workforce.

Ms Kindermann said some service industries were growing.

“Comparing stats from 2016 to that from 2011 … [shows] a 27 per cent increase in fitness instructors, a 25 per cent rise in the number or beauty therapists and a 23 per cent increase in bar attendants and baristas,” Ms Kindermann said.

Professionals were also on the rise among Indigenous Australians, overtaking labourers as the main occupation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

More Aussies getting post-school qualifications

Australians are upskilling like never before to get their jobs, with 9.6 million people holding a post-school qualification — a 46 per cent increase since 2006.

Though some Australians are going even further than a bachelor degree, with postgraduate qualifications increasing by almost 50 per cent in the past five years.

And Ms Kindermann said education for Indigenous Australians had also improved across the board.

There was a 150 per cent increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people holding Cert III and Cert IV level qualifications since 2006.

Women still doing more housework

But despite the rise in qualifications and employment, the division of labour at home remains largely a female responsibility, according to the census, with women in full-time employment being twice as likely as their male counterparts to do at least 15 hours of unpaid domestic work per week.

“[19 per cent] of women working full-time were likely to undertake at least 15 hours of unpaid domestic work a week, compared to 8 per cent of men,” Ms Kindermann said.

“And while 9 per cent of men who were employed part-time were likely to carry out 15 or more hours of unpaid domestic work a week, for women it was 34 per cent.”

Car still the king of the road

Driving remained the dominant method of transport for Australians travelling to work.

Just under 5 million people drove or were a passenger in a car on their way to work on census day, Tuesday August 9, 2016.

Nearly half a million Australians caught a train to work and a further 104,000 people took a combination of trains and buses. About 86,000 used a mixture of driving and trains.

“Unsurprisingly, residents of Sydney were significant users of public transport,” Ms Kindermann said.

“Residents of Adelaide recorded the highest rate of people who drove to work [followed closely by Perth] … while Canberra recorded the highest rate of people walking or cycling to work.”

Melbournians were second most likely to catch public transport to work and second least likely to drive.

While Hobart residents were the least likely to catch public transport, just under 5 per cent of commuters in Brisbane chose to walk or cycle to work.

Darwin had a mixture of people driving or catching public transport, though residents were also the third most likely to walk or cycle to work.

How does your city get to work?

CityCar (as driver)Public transportWalking or cycling

Topics: population-and-demographics, community-and-society, canberra-2600, act, australia

First posted October 23, 2017 10:39:36