TIO: It's all over


p2062halduellOKTo sell or not to sell is no longer the question. The Territory Insurance Office has been sold, a price agreed and there’s nothing left to negotiate except perhaps a few minor details concerning the details of transfer.
Or at least that’s the way I see it. And it’s pointless to beat the partisan drum.
Both sides of the Legislative Assembly are in on this, Delia Lawrie’s protests and petitions notwithstanding. After all, it was under our former Chief Minister, Clare Martin, that this sale was last put on the table.
I am sure the appeal not to sell from our Alice Springs Town Council has been duly noted.
I see this sale as being part of a larger picture, one that is framed by the soon-to-be-signed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.
Hidden in this treaty currently being hammered out behind closed doors will be a clause constraining signatory governments from passing legislation that could adversely impact the ability of  multi-national corporations to turn a profit. It will give precedence to corporations over national governments, and both our major political parties are queuing up to sign.
So expect to see not just TIO, but our hospitals, our schools, and our pharmaceutical benefits go private. MediBank Private is being privatised right now. Public schools are opting for independent status under some sort of Charter School arrangement such as has taken hold in the US.
Welcome to TPPA’s brave new corporate world. Unions and their award rates take note.
Back to Alice and the sale of TIO, and there seems little doubt that the cost of flood insurance will become prohibitive for many.
This is where the sale will have its most immediate impact on us living here, so to sweeten the pill the price rises may be introduced in increments. The full impact could come after next year’s Territory election.
They are not complete fools, our pollies. Nor are they without electoral cunning. To fill in the intervening time we may easily have, wait for it, a Public Consultation.


  1. If the Trans-Pacific trade agreement (TPPA) is being negotiated “behind closed doors” how do you know it prohibits passing legislation that could adversely impact the ability of multi-national corporations to turn a profit?
    We do have a leaked “investment” chapter of the draft TPPA that shows the Australian Government has kept to its policy and is refusing to apply the right of investors to sue governments for damages in Australia.
    The “larger picture” is just Giles recklessly selling our TIO to raise capital while sucking up to Abbott by participating in his infrastructure scheme.

  2. @Jones
    Posted November 13, 2014 at 4:59 pm
    I hope you are right about corporations not being allowed to sue the Australian Government, but I remain sceptical.
    Abbott’s track record is not good when you look for signs that he is willing to stand up to the US.
    He has involved us in another pointless and manufactured war in the Middle East. He parrots talking points on the Ukraine. He has applied sanctions on Russia without questioning either why or considering economic blowback. He has not joined the Chinese led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank under pressure from the US.
    The list goes on.
    How do I know that investor state dispute settlement, or ISDS, will end up in the finalised TPPA? I don’t, but I am hardly alone in worrying about it. It’s already in many treaties we have signed.
    Some don’t worry. They can’t understand what all the fuss is about.
    Others do worry. They look at what has happened to Canada under the same provision in the North American Free Trade Agreement, and they worry the same could be coming our way.
    We will sign the TPPA. Let’s hope we don’t lose our shirt for doing so.
    And as for Giles being the larger picture, I assume you are joking. There is a larger picture taking form out there, a corporate brave new world, and the Territory and its Chief Minister are merely signing on to become a part of it.

  3. Sadly you’re right Hal.
    Originally it was a proud moment when we had a Chief Minister from Alice Springs. However, it has gone from disappointing to embarassing and now outright anger.
    Our town has always endured with a survivor spirit. Yet, fundamental decisions such as TIO don’t get a second chance, but have a direct outcome on our lifestyle and cost of living.
    It was pointed out very clearly to me two nights ago while having dinner with friends: “Giles has only been here and in the Territory for seven years, he has no understanding”.
    A simple, yet very true comment when you listen to all his rhetoric, referring to “around the country” and “other insurers” and as so many on this website have pointed out “he wasn’t here for the floods, or in Katherine for the floods or in Darwin for the cyclone”.
    All this, yet he has the gall to say this week on radio “this isn’t political, it’s common sense management” … Hmmm very ignorant and arrogant.

  4. Its simple maths really. TIO belongs to us. It is there to support us in difficult times. It tries to keep the premiums down. If it is privatised it belongs to someone else and it is there to make as much profit as possible.
    Two ways to do that. Raise premiums or lower and avoid payouts. How can anyone support that unless your a potential buyer or good mates with one.

  5. The rise in premiums whether TIO is sold or not is inevitable.
    With the concentration of risk increasing year on year as those outside of flood zones procure cheaper premiums from others in the market TIO’s risk increases proportionally.
    Any government needs to make decision to either underwrite those who choose to live in a flood zone or open it to the market (as pointed out in the article that Labor also wanted to sell it).
    If the sale is to go ahead I would hope that the profit would be spent on flood mitigation for those areas in a flood zone.
    At least this would go towards decreasing the risk for those in flood zones and keeping some sort of downward pressure on the rise in premiums.

  6. @1 – Thank you for the unbiased expertise on the topic Daniel Davis. Wouldn’t happen to be the Daniel Davis who is the vice president of CLP?
    Because I don’t know of any other sane territorian that thinks the sale of TIO is at all a smart move designed to benefit the people.

  7. @ Observer: What is your definition of bias? Bias exists in many ways. If you currently live within the 100 year flood zone (which I do) and benefit from government underwritten insurance premiums then I would also say that bias exists.
    Just because someone has a perceived bias does not make their view any less valid.
    Yes, I am the Daniel Davis, Vice President of the CLP. I don’t run away from that, and the fact I am a member in the party doesn’t mean I agree with everything the government does (read my earlier interview with Erwin).

  8. Daniel you say that those outside of flood zones get cheaper premiums from other insurance companies and this disadvantages TIO’s and will lead to higher premiums.
    The price of the premium is not the only factor that influences choice of insurer.
    TIO is local and has an excellent reputation for paying out claims in a timely manner, not all its competitors, if any, share that reputation.
    Also worth mentioning that TIO work health cover is the least litigious in the nation and funds rehabilitation of injured workers far more than any other insurance company.
    NT businesses who value their employees stick with TIO.
    It’s a sad day when someone in your position sells out TIO and every thinking and decent Territorian.

  9. @2
    A biased view has considerably less value than a balance view. A cigarette company’s view has less value on the detriments of smoking than say a medical practitioner.
    A mining lobby group’s view on global warming has less value than that of a climate scientist.
    The view of a senior member of a political party on party policy has less value than that of the constituents (the owners of the insurance company.)
    Don’t be too quick to fall for the “all opinions are equal” mindset. Some opinions are uneducated, some are bought, some are illogical and others are greedy, shortsighted and outright dangerous.

  10. @Jones: I have to disagree on TIO’s reputation for paying out claims in a timely manner.
    I personally fought with them for eight months to payout a claim for building repairs due to water damage.
    Due to their tardiness in paying they cost themselves a significant amount more in lost rent claims than what it would have cost them if they had paid out in a timely manner.
    I think the man who lit a trolley full of fuel in the TIO head office and the woman who drove her car through the front doors would also disagree with you.
    They are just as bad as many other insurance providers.

  11. Daniel, yes there is the odd disgruntled TIO customer but the company is obliged to scrutinise claims in order to keep premiums down.
    Relative to the other sharks in the business they are very good.
    The downside of being local and available to residents is that on the rare occasion the events you describe may happen.
    Suggest you ask your GP who the best insurance company is when it comes to work health claims.

  12. @ Observer: your comparison with a mining company or cigarette manufacturer is completely different.
    They have a financial interest in the argument.
    Your comparison would be valid if I was employee of the party or an insurer.
    I am a volunteer in a political party, a taxpayer and a constituent.
    As such my opinion is as valid as anyone else’s here.
    The fact people choose to be a member of a political party as a way of voicing their views in the political system does not devalue their opinion in any way.

  13. Some good points of view and debate here. A shame it doesn’t really matter. All the while, Elferink and Styles were doing the numbers to roll Giles while he was in hospital with his knee. Price and Conlan running to his bedside to “tell on them to Adam”.
    What does that say?
    They all know it’s the wrong decision.
    Reap what you sow, all of you. CLP = Complely Lost Plot.

  14. Sean, your comment rings true to me.
    Elferink has displayed his leadership aspirations before but I find his ambition odd.
    His dour faced, stern demeanour may be excusable as an aspect of a man who is committed to principle, who will not sell out for political purposes.
    But we have seen his readiness to axe anyone in his way, his blind defence of Maley and his eagerness to sell TIO.
    He seems vaguely suitable as a minister for corrections but beyond that?
    Unimaginable that he should become the Chief Minister.
    It will never happen but he seems the only one not to know that.

  15. @ Jones … your comment about Elferink becoming Chief Minister is the same that people use to say about Giles. Yet look what we have now.
    If there is one thing for sure, who the hell knows “what is next” with the CLP! Regardless if its cabinet, leadership, selling assets, governing – it is all random, knee jerking and out of touch.
    And Gawd, this is my opinion as a previous, loyal CLP voter.
    None of them would have lasted five minutes in the past CLP Government.

  16. A final thought on this topic: If the sale proceeds, as I am satisfied it will, can we have a trade?
    The main objection seems to be that with the loss of TIO we will lose our affordable flood insurance.
    So, how about using some of the proceeds from the sale to build the much discussed and formerly agreed to flood mitigation dam?


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