Entsch hits back at Bates over insurance

Wednesday March 4 2015, 1:15pm

Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch and Cairns Regional Councillor Richie Bates have traded harsh words over Far North Queensland's insurance crisis. 

Mr Entsch has spoken out several times about skyrocketing insurance premiums for Far North Queensland residents in the wake of past natural disasters, especially in the strata market. 


RELATED STORY: New Insurer Enters FNQ Strata Market


In an open letter to media on Monday, Cr Bates criticised Mr Entsch for what he said was a lot of talk but no action on insurance prices. 

“It gets [Mr Entsch] a headline in the local newspapers from time to time, but he has not done a single constructive thing to reduce home premiums for far northern families," Cr Bates said.

“Mr Entsch has been totally ineffective in curbing exorbitant premiums while at the same time refusing to work with others on a solution.”

“When the new state member for Barron River, Craig Crawford, called for action, Mr Entsch’s irresponsible reaction was to slap him down.

“Someone genuinely interested in reducing insurance premiums should welcome opportunities to work productively in a bipartisan way with other people, especially Mr Entsch who has no answers.”

Mr Entsch rubbished Cr Bates’ claims and argued he had taken plenty of action on insurance. 

“I think [Cr Bates’s letter] was just an application to the Labor Party,” Mr Entsch said. 

“The funny thing is that this is the first time in four years I’ve heard Richie Bates talk about insurance. 

“There was never any action on insurance until we came into government and Arthur Sinodinos sat down with the insurers and let them know if they didn’t shape up there would be consequences. 

“We’ve also helped developed the insurance aggregator website for strata insurance, which is being launched this month and will help people compare prices between different insurers - the insurers hate the idea of the site. 

“Then there’s the $12.5 million we put in for strata engineering assessments for FNQ properties by James Cook University, with the idea that all strata could get insurance if they were structurally sound. 


RELATED STORY: Insurance Deals Hurting Home Owners


“Right now we are working to allow foreign insurers to enter the market, which we need because there is not nearly enough competition at the moment. 

“Insurance has been identified in the Top 6 out of 42 issues facing Northern Australia in the upcoming Northern Australia White Paper.

“And as we’ve done all this the companies have started realising they have to actually do something - CGU has started to introduce products at a different price range, so has Suncorp - they have gone from denying anything was wrong to admitting there is a problem.

“I’m more than happy to work with any bugger on this issue if it means we can work it out - it’s all well and good to point out the problems, but we need solutions.”