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SIRA CEO condemns icare at NSW Parliamentary inquiry

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State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) CEO Carmel Donnelly has condemned the performance of icare in an appearance before a NSW Parliamentary inquiry and says she is concerned over the lack of progress on an action plan set out last year to improve performance.

Ms Donnelly said key areas yet to be addressed were return-to-work targets and the appointment of dedicated case managers for those off work for seven days. The insurer has also not yet undertaken a recommended review of its culture, governance and accountability.

“I am disappointed with speed of action and there are a couple of areas where I think it is now urgent,” Ms Donnelly told the Parliamentary workers’ compensation inquiry this afternoon.

SIRA yesterday received a copy of a report from Ernst & Young, which was requested to complete a risk review.

Ms Donnelly said the report had raised concerns that icare had a “risk of a bias toward positivity”.

“I am concerned overall that there has been a decline in performance,” she told the committee in an appearance extended to allow for extra time.

icare CEO John Nagle is set to appear before the committee later this afternoon as the insurer comes under increasing criticism over its performance.

The insurer has rejected reports about problems affecting its Nominal Insurer and Treasury Managed Fund (TMF) schemes as “misleading and inaccurate”.

In a statement on Saturday icare said transfers of funds from Treasury to the TMF were not bailouts.

The insurer says $2 billion was transferred this year for claims resulting from the worst bushfires in a century, droughts, floods, as well as existing and anticipated claims including historic sex abuse claims and those arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also received funds in previous years.

“To label these payments as ‘bailout’ is incorrect,” it says. “Any self-insurer whether in the public or private sector will as a matter of course make transfers into and out of their scheme.”

The TMF covers the public sector, with funding based on a central estimate of liabilities.

icare also announced last week that board member Mark Lennon has resigned after sitting on the board since its inception in October 2015.