Government reveals North Australia taskforce line-up

Government reveals North Australia taskforce line-up | Insurance Business

Government reveals North Australia taskforce line-up
The Australian government has announced the six-strong Northern Australia Insurance Premium Taskforce with some familiar insurance faces making the grade.

The CEOs of the ICA and NIBA, Rob Whelan and Dallas Booth, will take part in the taskforce which will be led by Mike Callaghan, a former executive director in the Australian Treasury.

Assistant treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who announced the team in a statement, said that Callaghan will be able to lead the team during its difficult task for Northern Australia.

“Mr Callaghan brings strategic senior leadership experience from both the public and private sector to the Taskforce. Mr Callaghan will lead a team of both public and private sector members and will be responsible for providing the interim report and the final report to Government with recommendations on the best way forward,” Frydenberg said.

Gerald Ewing, CEO of Regis Mutual Management, Joan Fitzpatrick, chair of the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation Board, Fiona Guthrie, executive director of Financial Counselling Australia and Margaret Shaw, a consumer representative for Northern Australia round out the taskforce with a Queensland government representative yet to be named.

“The Taskforce is charged with exploring the feasibility of options that use the Commonwealth balance sheet to reduce home, contents and strata insurance premiums in those regions of Northern Australia that are experiencing insurance affordability concerns due to cyclone risk,” Frydenberg continued.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who visited Cairns over the weekend, spoke of his desire for the taskforce to get to work as quickly as possible with a deadline for an final report set for November this year.

“I want (this taskforce) to do their work as quickly as possible because the insurance crisis has been dragging on for a long, long time here in Cairns and elsewhere in Northern Australia,” Abbott said, according to The Cairns Post.

“They will get cracking in days rather than weeks and I want them to report to me as soon as possible.

“It’s probably not realistic to ask them to report in a month or even two months, but I want the taskforce to report as quickly as they can so we can take action as quickly as we can.

“It’s just not right that people in Cairns and elsewhere in Tropical Australia are paying five times more the insurance premiums than those in Sydney and Melbourne.

“It’s not right, not fair, and it can’t continue.”