9 December 2015 - Territory Labor Leader, Michael Gunner, today called on the Territory Insurance Office (TIO) to urgently reconsider its decision to not compensate veteran fireman John (Jock) McLeod.
“I am deeply concerned that veteran firefighter, Jock McLeod, has had his bid for his workers compensation for work related illness rejected by TIO,” Mr Gunner said.
“Jock McLeod, like many other front line Territory emergency workers, has put his life on the line saving Territorians. Jock deserves to be looked after for his work related illness.
“Today’s decision is unjust and would not be supported by the majority of the Territory.
“Like anyone injured at work, Jock deserve to be adequately compensated,” Mr Gunner said.
Media Contact: Gino Luglietti 0401 119 794
8 December 2015 - The NTCOSS report that Territorians are paying an additional $1500 for insurance since 2009 is cause for concern given the average Territory Family is also paying around an extra $2000 since the CLP increased power by 30% and Water by 40%.
“The CLP broke their promise to reduce the cost of living when they increased Power and Water costs and sold TIO, and it’s for these reasons people are leaving the Territory in record levels,” said Nicole Manison.
“In 2014 the Northern Territory lost 3500 more people to interstate migration than we gained which means we lost 3500 taxpayers which skills who were contributing to the future of our Territory.
“In actual fact, the current losses are the worst experienced in two decades.
“Record levels of people leaving the Territory places immense pressure on local business because there are 3500 fewer people who won’t be spending their hard earned cash here at local businesses and shops.
“Local business is the backbone of our Territory economy, and when local business suffers, our economy suffers.
“The fact that 3500 people fewer people have taken their future elsewhere should be a wakeup call for the CLP Government.
“The CLP’s Adam Giles has dismissed the record levels of people leaving the Territory by saying we have always lost population, but that is simply not the case and completely contrary to NT Treasury documents.
“Treasury reports show net interstate migration in the period from 2007 to 2010 was positive - the Territory gained more people from interstate than it lost.
“Territory Labor will introduce a package which induces initiatives to help ease the pain Territorians have suffered through for three and a half years of this CLP Government.”
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today called on the Federal Government to provide Territory input into the Northern Australia Insurance Premiums taskforce.
“The establishment of this Taskforce is an acknowledgment of the real risk to Territorians of skyrocketing premiums following Adam Giles selling TIO,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Adam Giles sold TIO without a public mandate and in the face of evidence of market failure in Queensland following the sale of their public insurer.
Head of the Senate Inquiry, Warren Entsch, publicly stated on ABC Radio that he warned Adam Giles not to sell TIO, saying, “I was concerned that by selling it we would end up in the same situation we are in the rest of Northern Australia.”*
The Federal Senate Inquiry heard evidence that following the sale of Suncorp in Queensland, insurance became unaffordable or unavailable, and insurers withdrew cover in some regions.
“The Federal Government’s Taskforce is a welcome response to the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry into the Development of Northern Australia to reduce insurance premiums back to an affordable level,” Ms Lawrie said.
“It has been reported the Taskforce will consider two options: a government-run reinsurance pool or community-owned Northern Australia mutual insurer providing cyclone-specific cover.
“We want to ensure that flood and storm-surge cover is also considered, alongside cyclone cover, as well as the provision of affordable contents insurance for non-home owners.
The Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce and the NT Council of Social Service are two organisations that could represent Territory industry and community on the Taskforce, to address concerns about affordability and accessibility of insurance coverage in the Territory.
“With three months to prepare an interim report, I call on the Federal Government to immediately invite Territory participation onto the Taskforce and release the consultation plan to ensure there is appropriate community and stakeholder engagement.”
*ABC Radio 12 November 2014
Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211
Dramatic CLP changes to workers’ compensation in the Northern Territory will favour insurance company profits over the injured worker, Shadow Minister for Business Gerry McCarthy said.
The changes, first flagged on the day TIO was sold to Allianz last November, are being debated in the legislative assembly today.
“The changes will see many Territory workers no longer under the workers’ compensation scheme because the definition of an employee has changed.” Mr McCarthy said.
“The CLP government’s new scheme will abandon Territory workers and won’t help promote safe workplace practices. It will promote more litigation with injured workers pitted against their employer in a true definition of a worker.
“The current scheme is a ‘no-fault’ scheme providing for the rehabilitation and compensation of injured workers and funded on this basis since 1987.
“The amendments now introduce a 5 year limit for payments and a 6 year limit for medical or other costs for injured workers.
“Only a handful of workers will meet the very high bar – over 15% of what’s termed ‘whole person impairment’ - to be able to continue receiving payments and support,” Mr McCarthy said.
“A childcare worker or nurse who’s severely injured their back and needs spinal fusion requiring multiple surgeries over many years, only gets to 14%.
“Under these amendments, their compensation payments end after five years, with no future medical costs paid a year later.
“A crane operator who suffers knee injuries and can’t climb a ladder or walk up any kind of mild gradient, still injured after 5 years, will be cut off.
“The CLP’s government’s new amendments ignore ongoing psychological or psychiatric effects of being injured, completely denying justice for the worker.
“We applaud the firefighters in their long campaign to have occupational cancers covered by workers’ compensation.
“Well done, you’ve finally got what you deserve.
“Territory Labor has given a commitment that, if elected, we will amend the Act that limits claims to firefighters contracting cancer within 10 years’ of their last shift.
Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Natasha Fyles, today said the Opposition welcomes Adam Giles’ backflip on rushing ahead to privatise Darwin Ports.
“The Territory Opposition has consistently called on the Government to halt their asset sales program and consult with Territorians,” Ms Fyles said.
“Territorians know they cannot trust Adam Giles to operate in their best interests, given his track record of rushing to privatise TIO without any form of public consultation.
“We are yet to see the terms of reference and details of the committee, but on first glance we wonder if five weeks is long enough for proper consultation.
“This timing suggests the Chief Minister is engaging in a cynical exercise with the report due on the eve of the March sittings, ready in time to push through the sale legislation.
“A good place to start is for the government to immediately release its business case and cost/benefit analysis, which they should have done before they announced this late last year.
“While it is great to see Adam Giles is trying to change his approach but Territorians are not naïve and know that the cautionary tale of the fate of the now disposed QLD LNP Leader, Campbell Newman, would be influencing Giles’ about face.”
Ms Fyles said the Privatisation of Darwin Port will have a detrimental effect on the cost of living for Territorians as Territorians will foot the bill of freight increases of commercial rates.
Ms Fyles said the Darwin hearing of the Senate Inquiry into the Privatisation of state and territory assets and new infrastructure will be held on Monday.
“Territorians do not want their public assets privatised,” Ms Fyles said.
“The Senate Inquiry will hear evidence about the CLP’s actions to sell TIO without a public mandate under the guise of attracting federal government incentive payments and concerns about the potential sale of other Territory assets.”
Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667
The Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Natasha Fyles, said the CLP government is showing the same arrogance with the sale of Port of Darwin as they did with TIO.
“The CLP didn’t have a mandate to sell Territory assets yet they sold TIO and now they’re selling our Port,” Ms Fyles said.
“True to form the CLP are actively seeking buyers before giving Territorians and businesses a chance to have their say and The Port of Darwin Bill may not be debated in Parliament until after the buyer is locked in.
“It will be just like TIO – the deal is done and the paperwork tidied up after the fact."
Ms Fyles said staff were told in a bulletin circulated on Friday that, while the bills are likely to be debated in February, ‘government intends to canvass potential investors and seek expressions of interest over the next few months’.
Ms Fyles said Territorians will be hit by cost of living increases if the port is privatised through a 99 year lease which is in effect a sneaky sale.
"Adam Giles and the CLP Government are spending millions on spin in a bid to justify a sale that will spike up the cost of living.
Territorians will foot the bill of freight increases because privatisation will bring commercial rates," Ms Fyles said.
“Arrogant Adam Giles is selling out our future without a mandate. Our Port is crucial to economic growth and needs to stay publicly owned so Territorians reap the rewards of our oil and gas growth.
“Adam Giles spin said TIO wasn’t ‘a sale’, rather a ‘transfer of ownership'. This time, it's a 99 year lease which is still a sale and we all know it.
"The Port is hitting its straps with the oil & gas growth, turning out a $17m profit this year.
“When will Adam Giles learn that Territorians want to have their say before the Government does the deal with a private investor?"
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today announced a Labor Government, if elected, would institute a No Public Mandate, No Public Asset Sale policy and review any sale of public assets undertaken by the current CLP Government.
“The Government of the day has a responsibility to the people to protect public assets, particularly where monopolies exist in small jurisdictions,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Like all policy development, an asset sale should include genuine public consultation.
“Right now, Territorians are rightly concerned the CLP Government is on a sell-out agenda, rushing through the sale of TIO, PowerWater and the Port without genuine consultation with Territorians.
“Public assets like TIO belong to Territorians, not the Government.
“If a Government has a case to sell a public asset in the best interests of the community, where there has been a cost benefit analysis, they should make that case to the voting public and win their mandate to sell.
“The CLP have failed to consult with the public and they are arrogantly pursuing a behind-closed-doors sell-out of assets that belong to Territorians.
“Territory Labor does not support the sale of TIO or public assets like the Port and PowerWater, and we stand on our record in Government where public assets were kept in public hands.
“If a Labor Government is elected in 2016, it will review any sale of public assets that the CLP undertakes.”
TIO is presently the only insurer in the Territory market that provides all the cover Territorians need to be fully protected against cyclone, flood and storm surge and it provides disaster cover to mitigate against potential profiteering from re-building efforts after major disasters.
The CLP is ignoring a recommendation to the Australian Government to expand TIO across Northern Australia because “it is affordable and consistently available” and would address the insurance crisis that is impeding investment in Northern Australia.
To this end, the Labor Opposition demands the CLP Government reveal whether the terms of their sale of TIO includes a restraint of trade clause which would prevent the Federal Government providing for a TIO government-owned model of insurance being established in the Northern Territory.
The Territory Insurance Office (TIO) in the Northern Territory is a government owned statutory insurance provider that has provided affordable insurance to citizens of the Territory since 1979. It provides a potential model for the creation of an insurance office covering Northern Australia. – (Inquiry into the Development of Northern Australia: Final Report)
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, said that Chief Minister Adam Giles is refusing to give Territorians a say on his plans to sell TIO.
“We are hearing from a chorus of Territorians who do not want TIO sold, including the Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce who represent businesses," Ms Lawrie said.
“But Adam Giles and the CLP Government are not listening and are pushing a crash through agenda with dire consequences for families and businesses.
“Last night in Parliament the Chief Minister said: ‘we are seeking final offers for TIO. When the final offer comes in we will move extremely quickly if we decide to make the sale’.
“Adam Giles is now trying to pretend that it is TIO that is pushing for the sale not the CLP Government.
“Adam Giles as Treasurer is the shareholding Minister for TIO and it would be his decision to take a sale to Cabinet.
“Adam Giles has his hands are all over the plan to sell TIO in return for a quick cash grab.”
Ms Lawrie said that Territorians are being denied a say in what happens to their public asset.
“Instead the Chief Minister has promoted a shopping list of things he could spend the profits of the sale of TIO on," Ms Lawrie said.
“The sale would be devastating to the interests of Territorians who rely on the specific insurance coverage provided by TIO for the Territory’s unique conditions.
“A key factor that was highlighted in Warren Entch’s Inquiry into the Development of Northern Australia: Final Report which recommends an extension of TIO not privatisation.”
“Public assets like TIO belong to Territorians, not the Government,” Ms Lawrie said.
“The CLP Government needs to abandon their quick cash grab sale plans and let Territorians have a say on the future of their public assets.”
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today again called on Chief Minister Adam Giles to give Territorians a say on their public asset privatisation plans.
“Adam Giles and the CLP Government are hell-bent on selling the Territory’s public assets for a quick cash grab despite the negative effects it will have on Territorians,” Ms Lawrie said.
“TIO is in Adam Giles’ sights and if sold would leave Territorians, especially those in flood and cyclone-prone areas, vulnerable without the affordable and timely insurance coverage with TIO.
“The long term lease of Darwin Port by a private operator will lead to increases in cost of living for Territorians who would suffer the impact of rising port prices - with livestock, resources, cars and household goods at greatest risk of commercial rate imposts.
“The sale of any utilities assets under PowerWater Corporation, as shown in other jurisdictions, will lead to increased tariffs and reduced reliability.”
Ms Lawrie said that jobs and employment conditions of Territorians would be under threat in the event of privatisation.
“Once a public asset is sold all control is out of Territorians hands,” Ms Lawrie said.
“There is no way of guaranteeing that a new private owner of a Territory asset will preserve the employment conditions that were previously agreed to under public ownership.
“We’ve already seen employees of Darwin Bus Service stripped of entitlements by the private owners only months after the CLP Government sold the service.”
Ms Lawrie said the CLP Government needs to give Territorians a say in what should happen to their assets.
“Public assets belong to Territorians not to the CLP Government,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Territory Labor has repeatedly called on Adam Giles to take his privatisation plans a referendum or to the next General Election to give Territorians a say on their public assets.”