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Amalgamation push continues - insurance agency next to fall

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The National Injury Insurance Agency (Queensland) will no longer stand alone, with Treasurer Cameron Dick deciding its work can again be done in-house.

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Last year, Dick announced several machinery-of-government changes intended to drive efficiencies without sacrificing productivity.

The Queensland Productivity Commission would be integrated into Treasury as the Office of Productivity and Red Tape Reduction, Building Queensland integrated into the Depart Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, and the Public Safety Business reintegrated into the Queensland Police Service and Queensland Fire Emergency Service.

Now, the NIISQ agency will have its governance functions, reporting and accountabilities transferred to the Insurance Commissioner, part of the Motor Accident Insurance Commission that reports to the Treasurer. This will result in the abolition of the NIISQ board, with the Insurance Commissioner also taking on the role of NIISQ CEO when the bill takes effect.

“The work of the NIISQ to providing lifetime treatment, care and support for hundreds of participants who have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents will continue unabated,” Dick told InQueensland.

“I thank the board of NIISQ for their dedication and commitment in administering this important scheme for vulnerable Queenslanders.”

The NIISQ was established in 2016 as part of moves toward a National Disability Insurance Scheme. The scheme had 266 participants at the end of June and provides lifetime care for catastrophic injury caused by vehicular, medical, workplace and general accidents that occur in the home or community.

The NIISQ is funded through a levy paid by motorists but its $421 million in revenue last financial year was overshadowed by an estimated $865 million in liabilities. It had been undergoing a major review, and faced several legal challenges, however the latest survey of participants found 90 per cent believed the NIISQ played a valuable role in their life.

NIISQ is unique among other state or territory lifetime care schemes in that it provides lifetime participants who have a Compulsory Third Party (CTP) civil claim with the option of either receiving their lifetime treatment, care and support needs through the NIISQ Agency or receiving it as a lump sum when their CTP claim settles.

It is unclear how much money the amalgamation will save, however remuneration for the NIISQ board and CEO alone was $573,000 last financial year. Dick’s comments suggest there will be no changes to the operation of the scheme itself.

The government will also make further savings by lifting the requirement that certain government advertising only be done in print media, thereby allowing consumers to benefit by accessing such information through online media.

It follows News Corp closing various regional media publications.

“For some years now, the overwhelming majority of Queenslanders have sourced most of their information from online publications,” Dick said.

“Queenslanders should have the same access to information wherever they live, and many regional communities are no longer serviced by regular print publications.

“At a time when every taxpayer dollar counts, this change will allow savings to be made without compromising access to important information.”

The state budget will be handed down in June.

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