Should Australia follow the US with Travel Pre-Approval

I caught my first flight following the upgrade of security after the latest terrorism arrests that took place last week.

I was concerned, as when I was called over for explosive testing the official tested two other people I did not know at the same time. Even though I was the first called, he wiped the swab over me last and tested us all with the one swab.

What would have happened if either had traces on them or their baggage and it was then wiped all over mine? It seemed an extremely unprofessional way of doing things which could at worst have severely delayed my travel and worst damaged my reputation if I was caught up at the same time as a terrorist.

It could be that they are just trying to look like they are doing something, but do it properly or do not do it at all.

The airport check in was, of course, a nightmare and I suggest that the government consider introducing a similar system as the United States government with a pre-approval travel system.

For those who travel frequently for business, within Australia and internationally it continues to get harder. We all appreciate the need for security but if you have say an APEC Travel Card which means you have been checked by not only our government but many within Asia, you have no criminal record and are not on any terrorism watch list then allow them to get on with their business and tax paying ability.

The benefits to government and the security system would be:

  • More revenue for government as there would no doubt be a fee to get the pre-approval. I think the APEC Card costs $700 and at present offers absolutely no value within Australia, going in or out at present. The value is in countries that honour the system.
  • It would reduce the congestion currently seen at the airport making it more pleasant for all travelers.
  • It would allow the security officers to focus on those that have not had the stringent security clearance and therefore likely improve detection.

Naturally, I would still suggest a random check of pre-approved travelers and if they were found to be carrying something not permitted they lose their pre-approval status which in itself would be reason to take care of what they take.

While security is the new norm for all our sakes, if the United States, who you would suspect would be one of the highest if not number 1 on the target list, can develop a workable solution, there have been no successful circumventing of the system that has been such to have it disbanded after many years of successful application.

This was the first of 6 flights I am to take between now and Thursday evening. Meanwhile, I am not looking forward to the rest of the week spent in airports. While I do not wish to be difficult, I certainly will not be allowing the explosive test to be conducted with others again. We will see how that goes down.

Oh, and please check your travel insurance to make sure that it has no exclusions for terrorism that may prevent a claim being made for cancellations or heaven forbid something worse.

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NSW Government continue to bend the facts to hide their ineptitude.

Like all rate payers in New South Wales, I received this (image) flyer from the New South Wales Government on the emergency services levy.

I cannot accept that deferring the levy is going to help those that are currently bearing the cost of funding the fire and emergency services.

Fact 1: everyone in New South Wales benefits from having an efficient, well funded, well trained and equipped fire and emergency services.

Fact 2: the men and women that do this work deserve our full support for doing some of the most dangerous and stressful work in our society to protect all of us and our property.

Fact 3: it is completely unfair that only a percentage of the community bear the bulk of the cost and not everyone.

Fact 4: by deferring the changes, it means that those that insure go back to bearing the brunt of funding the fire and emergency services.

Fact 5: this, in turn, means that to avoid paying the levy people do not insure or do not insure fully. Putting an even greater burden on the prudent and risk averse who insure fully.

Fact 6: Currently, the Fire and Emergency Services means that many insurance policies are 40% higher in New South Wales than say Victoria. If you add the triple taxation of Goods and Services Tax being imposed on the Fire and Emergency Services and then the State Government Stamp Duty on insurance premiums, Fire and Emergency Services Fees, and the GST component any fool can see the inequity of having the levy on any product or service.

Fact 7: Every single study on Fire and Emergency Services shows that the fairest way for the community to fund the service is to have as broad a tax base as possible. This is property rates where everyone pays, whether you are a tenant or an owner occupier.

Fact 8: In 2012, the New South Wales Government issued a White Paper and called for input from the community on moving the levy away from insurance, rightly pointing out that it was inequitable in the current form. This means the NSW government have had 5 years to get this right as well as the benefit of consulting with all the other mainland states who successfully made the transition from insurance to property rates.

Armed with these facts, I am sure that you will agree with me that this is a monumental and inexcusable balls up by the New South Wales government.

I am pleased to see the issue is getting some time in the Sydney Morning Herald  which sheds more facts on the waste involved here and how the new levy was so wrongly calculated. For a home owner who fully insures it should logically have gone down with the broader tax base.

We cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube but what we need is some honesty on the part of the Government that they and only they got it wrong and secondly an honest time line as to when the reforms will be implemented.

My guess is that it is in the too hard basket for this government, that is, it is beyond their ability and that we may be stuck with it for another generation.

Of course, this is not the only issue this government has failed us on. The water issue from the Murray Darling is a complete story of failure in itself.

We all deserve better!


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Why do governments bury their heads in the sand?

I originally set this blog up to address insurance questions but more and more I seem to be questioning the attitude and lack of leadership of governments on a wide range of issues.

The fact is that as the insurance industry is there to pick up the financial effects of loss, injury and disruption, then what governments do and do not do effects insurance and those that purchase the protection.

The latest issue that has me shaking my head is the decision of the Tasmanian and Northern Territorial governments allowing water treatment departments and/or companies not to participate in the collection of wastewater samples.

Why is this important? The samples taken provide information on drug use. Drug use effects our economy and those that live in this country in a wide range of ways from increased car accidents, burglary and other similar crime rates, work place injuries etc.

While the Program is intended to provide a national picture of drug use, regrettably, during the period covered by the latest report the operators of wastewater facilities in Tasmania and the Northern Territory declined to participate in the collection of wastewater samples.

Who are they kidding by burying their head in the sand. You cannot improve something that you do not measure. It really is a disgrace.

What we do know, from the latest report, is that Perth has finally shaken its tag of Australia’s methamphetamine capital, with a report showing that Adelaide residents are now bigger consumers of the drug.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (“ACIC”)’s findings were based on tests in October and December’16, and February’17 at wastewater treatment plants, which showed Perth residents consumed about 40 doses of the drug for every 1000 people each day, just above the capital city average of 37 doses a day.

Adelaide recorded about 60 doses a day — or more than 1½ times the national average. The Perth figure had almost halved since October last year when the consumption rate peaked at almost 80 doses a day, the highest for any capital city.

The ACIC’s report showed that meth remained the most widely abused illicit drug in the country, but use had been falling.

As the ACIC stated about Tasmania and Northern Territories decision to opt out of the wastewater sample collections: “This is disappointing as it limits our understanding of trends and emerging issues in those jurisdictions and the ability to compare current findings with those published in the first report.

On top of our appalling investment in risk mitigation, the withdrawal of funds to the national anti-theft task force by Victoria and the ongoing stuff up by NSW on Emergency Services Funding, we clearly need a change of direction at all levels of government for the good of society and our economy.

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Whinge or fix it: that is the question!

I wrote at the time how disappointed I was that the Federal Government only earmarked a token $26.1 million towards disaster mitigation for the Federal Budget in 2017-2018.  (To get the benefit the states have to match this dollar for dollar).

At the same time Federal and State politicians are complaining about the high cost of insurance.

Rather than genuinely address the problem, the insurance industry is again being demonised with the Federal Government announcing in the same budget that $7.9 million will be spent over 4 years to enable the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to monitor and report on prices, costs and profits in the northern Australia insurance market. This is despite the fact the Auditor General’s reported stating that insurance in Northern Australia has been historically under priced. I would argue that this $7.9 million would be better spent in disaster mitigation albeit a drop in the bucket of what is really needed to protect our communities and economy, not to mention individual households and businesses. 

Parking one of the major issues, that being the high level of government taxation on insurance for a moment. But before I do, I did hear that President Trump is planning a trip to New South Wales. His logic is that it is the only state in the world where the leader is more incompetent than he is proving to be. At least he could get the Emergency Service Levy right! – This of course could all be “fake” news.

Anyway, moving on, let us compare Australia’s spend with say what Canada invests in their Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.

While we plan on spending $26.1 million they plan on spending $2,000 million. That is Canada is spending 76.63 times as much! As a graph, it looks like this!

Yes they are marginally bigger in land mass:

and yes they have about 1/2 as many people again


Joseph de Maistre wrote: Every nation gets the government it deserves.  I disagree. Australia deserves better!

Perhaps we could reinstate 457 visas specifically for Canadian politicians to come and show us how to run a government.

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Another broker angry at the NSW Government

I received this email last night and it mirrors many phone calls and emails I have received.

“The NSW ESL Insurance Monitor has now gazetted a new Section 30 Notice which requires premium comparisons to be provided with renewal invitations and renewal schedules for residential property insurance in NSW from 1 July 2017.”

At what point does the State Government pull their head in & stop meddling in our Industry; specifically in areas that really have nothing to do with them?

Sorry to sound aggressive Allan. It’s just that, if consumers don’t like their renewal premium, they already have ample facilities at their disposal to shop around.

Further, this outrageous new “requirement” is totally disingenuous and simply propagates comparisons on price alone. It just isn’t a good look.

Where is the Government’s warning to review the quality & extent of cover, at the same time as comparing cost?

Thanks Allan – Gary. [surname and email provided]

I could not agree more. I seem to be constantly writing to politicians, most recently Nick Xenophon explaining that insurance is not about price. It is about protection and that is what the New South Wales government completely forgets. No one remembers the price of insurance when they have a claim occur.

What they want (and need) is coverage that indemnifies them for their loss or damage and has a sufficient sum insured, limit or sub-limit high enough to meet the cost. On top of this they look for a fair and reasonable claim service that is proactive and does not take a delay, deny, defend approach.

If anyone can get all of this in one policy and assure me that insurer will not have gone to God when I need them sign me up!

Let us see this for what it really is. The New South Wales government completely messed up the transition of Emergency Services Levy from the insurance industry where it has not been in Queensland since 1985 (nor in UK since the mid 1880’s) on to property rates where it ought to be so that all the community pay it. How they messed it up when they were the last state, is beyond my comprehension and one of the best examples of incompetence in government I have ever seen. How can anyone trust them after this.

One of the oldest political tricks in the book is to move the focus off your own failings and divert it elsewhere. We are constantly being demonised by the press and government and an industry who is incapable or unwilling to fight back, so we become the fall guy and the whole nonsense with the appointment of an insurance monitor who of all people should know better is showing examples of price differences between policies that are chalk and cheese.

I think every broker and insurer should comply with the request but also show just how much the New South Wales is taking of the total cost of insurance and in particular the completely unconscionable tax on tax on tax where the New South Wales Stamp Duty on insurance is a 10% on the premium, the Emergency Services Tax, and the Goods and Services Tax (“GST”), with the GST being applied to both the premium and the Emergency Services Tax. So it becomes triple tax.

If the New South Wales Government were genuine about making insurance more affordable, which only helps protect their citizens and economy by the way, then remove the taxes which is adding over 20% to the cost of home, home contents, and business property and business interruption premiums.

PS: I would also add a how to vote for one of the opposition parties in the same envelope if they gave a commitment to remove the Emergency Services Levy from insurance.

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Happy to see some relief for Insurance Taxes in NSW (unless there is yet another back flip)

The NSW Government is in line to win the Olympic Gold Medal in Back Flip Gymnastics

New South Wales Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says the state’s 2017 budget will relieve cost pressures for 600,000 small businesses in the region through the reduction of red tape, including by axing insurance duty on a range of policies for businesses with annual turnover of $2 million or less. As an aside, I am convinced governments want businesses to stay small for as soon as you grow and of course employ more people you end up paying a lot more government charges with Insurance Taxes being added to the insidious Payroll Tax.

The 2017 budget, which claims to deliver a $4.5 billion surplus, pledges to relieve cost of living pressures for families and business owners, and includes a $318 million plan to improve the viability of small businesses by removing insurance duty for commercial vehicle, professional indemnity, product and public liability, and crop and livestock insurance from January 1, 2018.

This will mean businesses with an aggregate turnover of up to $2 million will be encouraged to “take up more appropriate levels of insurance by removing the disincentive caused by higher insurance premiums”, according to the budget papers.

Insurance duty is paid to the state government by insurance providers and is calculated as a percentage of the policy premium. According to the Office of State Revenue, in NSW this can mean additional fees, which are often passed on to policy holders, range from 2.5% to 9% depending on the policy type.

Of course this is all dependent on the NSW Government honouring their word and not doing a back flip as they so cruelly did just one month out with the Emergency Services Levy.


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Finally something a government has done that actually makes sense!

It was really great to read that the Victorian Government has removed stamp duty from insurance on farm policies. Well done!

This on top of the removal of Fire Services Levy is a great initiative and makes the vital protection provided by insurance affordable by a segment of our economy who can least afford not to have it.

Now if only other governments would show as much leadership and good sense. Three come immediately to mind that should follow suit.

Home and business owners in North Queensland are struggling due to the high cost of insurance yet, after Cyclone Yasi and the Brisbane Foods in 2011 the Queensland State Government increased stamp duty on insurance from 9% to 10% (a full 1% increase at a time when a government with even 1 eye open should have seen the importance of business and home owners to be fully insured.

Thorough research by Federal Government Departments has shown that the pricing of insurance in North Queensland is fairly priced on the risk being transferred to insurers. Thank goodness those advocating for a Mutual did not succeed as Tropical Cyclone Debbie would have probably wiped out the fund, everyone’s investment and left many people uninsured.

Let’s save all the money on enquiries and address the elephant in the room. If the Queensland Government followed the lead of Victoria and removed Stamp Duty followed by the Federal Government reducing the Terrorism Levy for those in North Queensland the cost of insurance would fall by more than 10%!

The decision by the New Zealand Government to drastically increase the cost of insurance due to changes to the Fire Service Levy defy understanding for they, like the Queensland Government, should understand the value to their economy of everyone being well insured.

The third Government in the trio is the Tasmanian government, who currently holds the record of taxing their business owners the most through insurance. This of course is a disincentive to development.

Like people around the world, I have become greatly disillusioned with the lack of statesmanship in our politicians where it is power at all cost with more than just a little bit of ego gone mad to boot. It is in this frame of mind that I see some hope and refuse to believe my inner doubt that the decision was made to buy votes and not protect the State’s economy. The reality is what ever the reason, I am extremely pleased. Well done Victoria.

I witness far too often the heartbreak and financial stress that home and business owners face when they are not fully insured and so I urge Victorian’s benefiting from this change to take this valuable opportunity to review your insurance and make sure you are fully protected to make the most of your Government’s wise change of policy.

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Measures to Reduce Metal Theft

Scrap copper metal.

Scrap copper metal.

One of the major issues that we confront in claims is the issue of metal theft.

The cost of the claim is not in replacing the metal itself, it is often the damage caused by the thieves in their attempt at removing copper wire, copper pipes, brass fittings and the like. We have had many claims here at LMI that have been well over $500,000.
While thieves often target empty premises, they also are stealing copper from railway lines and operating factories and where they are dealing with electrical cabling they are putting their lives at risk. View full post…

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Is this job right for you?

bigstock-135462440The following is an note that was sent to me today by a SME business owner who has been trying to get a simple and fair claim sorted for well over a year.

The contents claim went through really well. In fact, it could not have gone better. On the other hand, the building claim, particularly the building fixtures portion, has been a case of delay deny defend.

The Financial Ombudsmen Service must been seen to fair and correct in their dealings with the determinations to be completed in a timely fashion. At the moment much of the public and within the insurance industry have lost faith in the service. We need this foundation to be right as the first step in the Make Insurance Great Again campaign. View full post…

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Changes to the rules around smoke detectors in Queensland homes

Smoke Detector in the smoke of a fire.

I share an update provided via Hayley Enders of Belle Property Carina. Thank you Hayley.

“Queensland homes will be required to be fitted with photoelectric, interconnected smoke alarms in all bedrooms, as well as hallways as part of legislation passed in parliament this week. All houses being built or significantly renovated will need to comply with the smoke alarm legislation upon completion after January 1, 2017.

“All houses leased or sold will need to meet compliance after five years and all owner-occupied private dwellings will need to comply with the legislation within 10 years. Any smoke alarm being replaced after January 1, 2017 must be a photoelectric alarm. Fire and Emergency Services Minister, Bill Byrne said the legislation followed recommendations handed down after the 2011 Slacks Creek fatal house fire. “The absolute tragedy we saw at Slacks Creek where 11 people died is an incident we never want repeated and this legislation ensures people will be alerted to house fires as early as possible,” Minister Byrne said.

“The legislation specifies that every Queensland residence will need to be fitted with photoelectric, interconnected smoke alarms in all bedrooms, as well as hallways of residences. By having the alarms interconnected, it won’t matter which part of a house a fire might start in, the alarm closest to you will sound and if you are asleep, an alarm will sound in your room, even if the area is closed off to the rest of the house” Minister Byrne said. “Research shows that photoelectric, interconnected smoke alarms are the most effective on the market for alerting people to fires early. “I am proud Queensland is now the national leader on this issue, making sure we are doing all we can to keep residents safe.”

“Minister Byrne said a 10-year phased rollout of the legislation would allow ample time for everyone to have their alarms installed correctly. “Hard-wired, interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms will require a qualified electrician to conduct the installation and ensure the alarms are working as they should be,” he said. “There is an option to install photoelectric alarms with a 10-year lithium battery that have the capability to achieve interconnectedness wirelessly between alarms. This option may be more suitable for Queenslanders living in remote areas where attendance of an electrician could be difficult.” Minister Byrne said although some residents would have up to 10 years to install the alarms, everyone should take action to update their alarm system as soon as possible. “This technology is proven to save lives and the sooner it is in every Queensland home, the safer we’ll be,” he said.

“Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) worked closely with the Palaszczuk Government to develop the legislation and Commissioner Katarina Carroll welcomed today’s announcement. “This legislation is the strongest of its kind in the country,” she said. “QFES has long recommended photoelectric, interconnected smoke alarms to be hard-wired into homes and the decision to mandate this is to be applauded. “As Queenslanders make the change and update their smoke alarm system, we are also encouraging everyone to review their fire escape plans. “When an alarm sounds, you need to know what you will do. Every household should have a fire escape plan and every person should know their role in that plan. “You may have as little as 15 seconds to enact your fire escape plan, so make sure you sit down with everyone in your household and discuss your escape plan. “Once you’ve had the discussion make sure you practice your plan.

“With a well-practised fire escape plan, you’ll stand a better chance of avoiding panic and getting everyone to safety during a house fire.” QFES has a free Safehome program where Queenslanders can request a visit from local firefighters who will advise them of the best locations for smoke alarms and suggest other fire safety initiatives around the home.

“To request a Safehome visit you or your clients can call 13QGOV or visit

In summary – All tenanted properties have 5 years to comply with the new legislative requirements. Owner occupied homes have 10 years.

My advice is to do it sooner rather than later as these alarms have been shown to save lives and reduce the size of property losses.

Finally, please do not just go for the cheapest product or installation. We do not want to turn this into another insulation batts fiasco where a good initiative turns out to have adverse unintended consequences. This means not doing this yourself but using a qualified and insured electrician.

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