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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Sound of silence: ESL Monitor's reports go missing

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Quarterly reports from NSW Emergency Services Levy (ESL) Monitor Allan Fels have dried up – despite a legal requirement for them to be published on time.

The last report published on the Monitor’s website was for the period to September 30 last year. According to guidance outlined on the site, a further two reports should have been published since then.

While insurers may welcome the respite – Professor Fels often uses the reports to allege industry shortcomings – timely publication of his observations is considered a crucial part of his role.

The Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor Act 2016 specifies that the Monitor is required to provide NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet with a report within 28 days after the end of each quarter.

“As soon as practicable after receiving the report, the Treasurer has the obligation to publish the report,” the Monitor’s website says.

“This obligation is met with the publication of the quarterly reports on the Monitor’s website.”

Except that it hasn’t been - not since September last year.

A spokeswoman for Professor Fels said “publication of each report is a matter for the Treasurer”.

"The Monitor has delivered the quarterly reports to the Minister in line with his statutory functions under [the Act]," she said today.

Mr Perrottet was not available to answer questions from insuranceNEWS.com.au, but it is believed the NSW election in March is the cause of the hold-up.

The NSW ESL has been a fraught subject for insurers. The current levy on insurance was due to be replaced with a broad-based property tax, with the Monitor appointed to ensure savings were passed on to customers.

The reform was suddenly ditched following a Government u-turn two years ago, which cost the industry $40 million, but the Monitor remained in position and has regularly attacked insurers’ pricing mechanisms.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has complained about Professor Fels, accusing him of stepping outside his remit and failing to listen to industry concerns.

The levy is due to increase significantly from July 1, with ICA pointing out that as a result more than 50% of the cost of NSW home and contents premiums, and 60-70% of commercial premiums, will go on taxes.