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Where's Allan? ESL Monitor's reports still missing

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Quarterly reports from NSW Emergency Services Levy (ESL) Monitor Allan Fels have been hidden from public view for a year.

Professor Fels’ office confirms the reports have been supplied to NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet in line with legislative requirements, but none have been published since September last year.

The Government is sitting on at least three reports, sparking criticism from consumer representatives.

The Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor Act 2016 specifies that the Monitor must provide the Government 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.

In June insuranceNEWS.com.au flagged the delay with the state Government, and the NSW election in March was blamed for the hold-up. But no progress has been made since.

insuranceNEWS.com.au sent a series of questions to NSW Treasury, including whether there was a reason for the delay and whether it is complying with the law.

No response was received for more than a week, despite repeated reminders. Today a spokesman for Mr Perrottet said simply that “any outstanding reports will be published in line with legislative requirements”.

The Monitor’s office is funded from general government revenue and funding is approved by Parliament as part of the budget process.

However, Mr Perrottet’s spokesman declined to provide any figures, and none are contained within budget papers. The Monitor’s funding is included in the “customer service cluster” budget and no breakdown is available.

The levy on insurance was due to be replaced two years ago with a broad-based property tax, with the Monitor appointed to ensure savings were passed on to customers.

The reform was abruptly ditched following a Government u-turn, which cost the industry $40 million. But the Monitor’s position remained, and Professor Fels has regularly attacked insurers’ pricing mechanisms.

The Insurance Council of Australia has repeatedly clashed with the Monitor, arguing that he has stepped beyond his remit.

Professor Fels and his office have declined to comment on the delay to his reports, or whether it is interfering with his role.

Consumer group the Financial Rights Legal Centre told insuranceNEWS.com.au it is important the reports are published.

“They are important sources of information that provide insights into the general insurance industry [that are] unavailable elsewhere,” Policy and Advocacy Officer Drew MacRae said.