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Howard's End: Is Parliament The Master Of ACC?

Is Parliament The Master Of ACC?

Concerns about ACC continue to surface with fresh allegations over the weekend that a claimant has been told by the office of the ACC complaints investigator that, "case managers are not there to follow the act they are there to interpret it" which begs the question, if Parliament is the highest court in the land what is it doing to ensure compliance with the laws it makes? Maree Howard writes.

Parliament, a.k.a the House of Representatives, is said to be the highest court in the land who make our laws in and for the public interest. Yet revelations in the media about ACC over recent months has not caused one of its select-committee's to be concerned enough to commence an inquiry as to whether the laws it makes are being complied with. We're not talking about the Government here, we're talking about the Parliament.

Clearly, the legitimacy of Parliament itself as the highest court in the land, must now be in question.

Millions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of hours are spent each year to make laws. But when an organisation like ACC can blatantly ignore public law the people, to whom the law is addressed, cannot have confidence that the law is stable and they cannot be guided by their knowledge and content of it.

So tear up the ACC law, it's more than worthless - it's dangerous to our democracy because ACC breaking the law is obviously condoned by our Parliament.

There is also evidence that time and again the Courts themselves have expressed concerns about the way ACC is applying the law or blatantly disregarding it, so it's not new.

But when breaches of the law are allowed to continue unabated, then Parliament is ineffectual because it steps back and doesn't seem to give a damn about what happens to the laws it makes. If it did, a select-committee inquiry would have been launched months ago into ACC.

In cases dating back as far as 1995 which Scoop has just been provided with, judges have said that civil actions for damages may have been warranted given ACC's blatant disregard of the law, its misinformation, its negligent advice and its wrongful action. This is not from one judge in just one case, either.

This is the stuff of revolutions in other countries but our Parliament select-committee's sit on their hands and do nothing. Is it any wonder there is so much road rage, air rage, spectator rage, and supermarket rage boiling over in society today. Parliament is the highest court in the land for goodness sake, but it sure doesn't act like it or take responsibility for its actions and its laws.

Following Scoop correspondent Dave Crampton's investigations on ACC throughout last week, a claimant has alleged over the weekend that he has been told by the office of the ACC complaints investigator that case managers are not there to follow the Act, they are there to interpret it.

Let's see now - several hundred case managers across the country means several hundred different interpretations of the law. No wonder there are complaints about unequal and discriminatory practices by ACC managers and case managers. Forget it - tear up the ACC legislation, it's worthless. The rule of law - stability of law - has been rendered useless.

Another claimant has been told by an ACC manager that case law from the Courts is not critical to day to day case management - I'm sure that little gem will impress the Courts no end.

How much of all this unnecessary cost in money, time and administrative inefficiency is placed on the levy payers? The lot, I suggest, and it's likely to be in the millions of dollars.

In one recent case Scoop has seen ACC was prepared to spend upwards of $3,000 on review hearings and appeals when the claimant's doctor recommended around $400-worth of phsyiotherapy treatment which was denied.

Yet the ACC legislation says it is required to provide services to claimants in a cost effective and administratively efficient manner. So whose head is going to roll over that perverse decision?

In another recent case both the manager and the case manager have subjectively decided to overrule three medical specialists including their own medical advisor, blatantly ignoring the law in the process, and denied the claimant treatment. And that's now off to formal review hearing as well.

And in yet another a psychiatrist has told the ACC Branch that her patient is suffering clinical depression caused by ACC's tactics. And there are others who are wallowing in despair.

Who on earth is supervising these people?

You see, most of the people injured and on ACC seem to come from what I respectfully call working-class backgrounds. These poor buggers are not academically astute so they're likely to be easy to get rid of from the scheme. That's cost-effective for ACC of course, since for every one who fights for their rights probably ten can't and get dumped. Yet, these people are the salt of the earth and they manually bend their backs and use their limbs every day to produce the goods and services which make some people rich and our lives easier, and that's fine.

But get killed on the job, and I've seen a company fined a paltry $15,000 - for a human life. And hell, if they got injured a few years ago they will be spending almost every day now fighting some psychopathic personality case manager who is interpreting the law to suit themselves and to protect their salary increases while denying the claimant their lawful entitlements.

Whoa! - psychopathic personality? Well, yes.

The definition of a psychopathic personality in the dictionaries says: " An individual characterised by emotional immaturity with marked defects of judgment, prone to impulsive behaviour without consideration of others, and without evidence of learning by experience. Though behaviour is generally amoral or antisocial there is little evidence of guilt."

That is the medical definition of a psychopathic personality and there are many ACC claimants who have attested to Scoop of that definition of their case manager. The courts, of course, keep on recording that ACC and its employees are not learning from their experience. But why should they? There's no sanction on them when they ruin someone's life and, in fact, they are rewarded with points for dumping people - by fair means or foul.

There remains a culture of breach of good faith, delay, indifference, lawlessness and downright obstruction within ACC and it seems to have spilled over to our Parliament. If not that, then why hasn't the highest court in the land cared enough to announce an inquiry into why the laws it made are not being complied with?


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