Insurance crisis could lead to economic 'catastrophe'
The Whitsundays is at risk of an economic "catastrophe” if the current North Queensland insurance crisis continues, Dawson MP George Chistensen says.
Residents who have been cornered into the insurance disaster spoke with Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing Michael Sukkar at a meeting in Cannonvale on Thursday.
Mr Christensen, who organised the meeting, said he hoped bringing the Minister to the region would spur further urgency for action within the Federal Government against the "unattainable” insurance premiums in North Queensland.
Meetings with Mr Sukkar were also held with residents in Mackay and Townsville.
Jubilee Pocket property owner Greg Musgrove attended the meeting after seeing his insurance premiums increased from $4,000 in 2007 to now $31,000 per year.
Even with rising premiums he's managed to remain insured, but said the company he is with refuses to renew his current policy once it expires next year.
Mr Musgrove has witnessed his insurance prices in the Whitsundays increase since the Brisbane floods and Cyclone Yasi in 2011 but said he was confident the government would prevent the situation getting any worse.
"I'd like to think the government would do something about this, that more insurance companies will be back online before we can say this is a real-life crisis,” he said.
"This is a serious issue at the moment but nothing serious has happened to anyone uninsured yet.”
However, Mr Chistensen said he isn't prepared to take any chances when it comes to having residential and business property owners uninsured.
He said the number of businesses in the region who can no longer afford or obtain insurance is a concern for the economic security of the Whitsundays.
"I'm aware of a number of businesses and tourist operators who are now self-insurers which is extremely risky,” Mr Christensen said.
"Quite honestly, that is something that cannot continue.
"If we do get a destructive cyclone and are substantially damaged, then those businesses disappear.
"We're talking about a catastrophe the same as if Proserpine Mill closed down, that is the same level of economic disaster that would occur if we don't have businesses with insurance.”
As the Member for Dawson continues to lobby the State Government for capped stamp duty prices on insurance, he said he was positive the recent visit from Mr Sukkar was a step in the right direction.
"What I expected from these meetings was to impress upon the Minister the crisis we are in and the urgency of action required,” Mr Christensen said.
"Talking with him today, that has worked - he has gone from here with a mission to land on a decision as soon as possible.
"The line now must be drawn in the sand; the situation can't deteriorate any more.
"We can't promise to fix this issue, but we can promise to put in measures to elevate the cost of premiums in North Queensland.”