March communiqué

The SIRA Board had a valuable discussion with the new President of the Workers Compensation Commission, the Hon. Judge Gerard Phillips, who succeeded our SIRA Board member, the Hon. Mr Greg Keating. The Commission does important work resolving disputes between injured workers and their employers and this session provided the Board with some useful insights on the Commission’s activities and the issues facing the system at present.

Dr Graeme Innes AM, Chair of the SIRA Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee, provided a report on the March 2019 Committee Meeting. He advised that the Committee’s focus is on obtaining system-wide data to provide insights about the accessibility, timeliness and effectiveness of dispute resolution in the workers compensation system and Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance scheme, and opportunities to prevent disputes where possible. The Committee also discussed the recommendations outlined in the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice Committee Report on the 2018 Review of the Workers Compensation Scheme. The Board noted that the Committee will invite a number of key stakeholders to future meetings of the Committee over 2019. Information about the Committee Members is available on the SIRA website.

The SIRA Board engaged in further discussion on the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry including relevant considerations and focus areas for SIRA. Key themes under discussion included inter-regulator collaboration, insurer transparency, organisational culture and governance, and appropriate regulatory approach and arrangements for enforcement teams.

The Board was pleased to endorse SIRA’s release of a consultation paper on a proposed consistent set of customer service conduct principles across the insurance schemes it regulates. The community expects that their interactions with mandatory personal injury schemes are efficient, honest and fair. Businesses require affordable and efficient policies providing adequate protection, while the beneficiaries of these policies need to be properly supported. As an insurance conduct regulator, the Board supports SIRA’s proactive regulation of supervised insurers in accordance with the legislation, in line with community expectations and in the best interests of customers.

Ms Nancy Milne OAM, Chair of the SIRA CTP Premium Committee, provided an update on the March 2019 Committee Meeting and overview of the Committee’s advice to the SIRA Board on several CTP premium-related matters. These included the CTP Risk Equalisation Mechanism Post-Implementation Review expected to occur in April/May 2019, and ongoing engagement with the taxi industry (Point to Point transport) on the planned introduction of application-based booking and metering systems in May 2019. Further information about the Committee Members is available on the SIRA website.

The Board noted the progress on development of the CTP Transitional Excess Profit and Loss (TEPL) mechanism Guidelines, which have undergone extensive stakeholder consultation. The Guidelines are due to be finalised following the making of a transitional regulation amending Schedule 4 of the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 (the Act). SIRA has addressed feedback on the draft Guidelines from insurers, actuaries and other stakeholders, including the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. Final technical adjustments are being made, with further actuarial and legal advice to be applied. Members look forward to considering the final version of the Guidelines, which will be implemented to ensure that the underwriting profits achieved by insurers during the transition period are neither excessive nor inadequate.

Other items discussed at the March 2019 Board meeting included:

  • Board Members noted SIRA’s continuing development of a strategy to support workers who were affected by section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987, and will subsequently be affected by section 59A of the legislation (limit on payment of compensation for medical expenses).
  • The Board was provided a progress update on the program of work to support the implementation of the dispute resolution amendments featured in the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2018.
  • Board Members noted an update on current matters in the Home Building Compensation Scheme.
  • Members were provided an update on SIRA’s strategic planning for 2019/20.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board