In light of the recent disasters befalling the nation, the Australian government may be setting up an inquiry to determine whether states should be forced to purchase commercial insurance policies to cover natural disasters. Legislators are currently pushing to pass a $1.8 billion deal that would help reconstruct levees. The possibility of an inquiry was raised when Treasurer Wayne Swan suggested that there “legitimate questions” about what states had done regarding insurance.
Swan said that “it is probably timely for us to evaluate all of those questions, to have a good hard look at them and see what the implications are for the future.”
Senator Nick Xenophon supports the possible inquiry, saying that he wants to take the burden of disasters off of taxpayers and let insurers handle it. He wants to make sure that the recent troubles with natural disasters will be the last time Australian citizens will have to pay for damages themselves.
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Many insurers, both big and small, have struggled with the flooding in Australia, most being unable to cover the cost of damages. The government itself has had trouble footing the bill as well. There has been a call to reform the insurance industry but changes are a secondary concern to recovery efforts, which may take years.
Western Australian, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales all have mandatory natural disaster insurance policies. Queensland and the Tasmania territories, who were most impacted by the flooding, have no such mandates.