Shorten calls for insurance industry to 'pull their finger out'

23rd August 2017 5:12 PM
Opposition leader Bill Shorten receives a TC Debbie update from mayor Andrew Willcox at the Proserpine Community Centre. Opposition leader Bill Shorten receives a TC Debbie update from mayor Andrew Willcox at the Proserpine Community Centre. Peter Carruthers

OPPOSITION leader Bill Shorten has called on the insurance industry to "pull their finger out" on a flying visit to Proserpine today.

The comment comes after statistics released by insurance giant Suncorp yesterday revealed that 66.5% of claims relating to cyclone Debbie have been finalised, leaving 6,446 claimants yet to receive any payout.

Five months on from Cyclone Debbie, QBE insurance still has 40% of claims to process.

Mr Shorten also received a briefing from mayor Andrew Willcox in which attention was drawn to the need for rock walls at Wilsons Beach and Conway.

Damage to Shute Harbour was flagged as a priority following the reluctance of the Federal Government to match State Government funding worth $110 million.

So far the Federal Government has only kicked in $29.3 million.

"We have got to get the Federal Government to just do it," Mr Shorten said.

Mr Shorten said he understood people of the Whitsundays are "hurting" and "just hanging on".

"I just say to Malcolm Turnbull, 'tick the box to get the funding flowing'," he said.

"And I say to the insurance industry, 'this is why people carry insurance so please upgrade the level of professionalism'.

 

Opposition leader Bill Shorten in Proserpine today.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten in Proserpine today. Peter Carruthers

"I want the insurance industry to start treating the people of the Whitsundays like it was family. If it was your own family you would probably sort it out."

Mr Shorten said he was optimistic his visit to the Whitsundays would "start to loosen the cogs in Canberra" in relation to the release of promised Category D funding.

"It is not good enough... people are not interested in the blame game, they just want action," he said.

"I will advocate in parliament, I will be contacting Malcolm Turnbull, I will be putting pressure on.

"I am doing my bit, drawing attention to a problem of the government and I am optimistic that the government will move."

Cr Willcox said Federal member for Dawson, George Christensen, assured him yesterday all information had been received by Canberra.

"He said he was quietly confident the decision (to hold out on the $110m grant) would be overturned," he said.

Cr Willcox said the Whitsunday application for Category D funding has been moved to the office of the Prime Minister.

"I am sure when he has a good look at this common sense will prevail and then we will get the assistance we deserve."

The Insurance Council of Australia said today that in the Whitsunday region 13,500 claims have been lodged, with 72% of those now closed.

One hundred and eight million has been paid to policy holders from an estimated insurance damage bill of $331 million.

For those policy holders still battling with insurance payouts, Insurance Council of Australia's General Manager of Communications, Campbell Fuller suggested calling the catastrophe hotline on 1800 734 621.