27 May 2003
I feel I have to respond to Maree Howard’s latest column on ACC. Maree missed out one relevant fact regarding a select committee inquiry into the ACC. The Audit Office is currently doing its own inquiry and its report is expected out in October. Even if a Select Committee inquiry was to go ahead, Greens ACC spokesperson Sue Bradford said it would not be held before October anyway and would duplicate some of the work the Audit Office is currently doing had it been held earlier. That is one of the reasons why the inquiry is not going to be held before the Audit Office report is released. The other reason is that there is no select committee available to hear an inquiry until at least next year. Another reason may be is that there is no agreement into the terms of the inquiry amongst even the MP’s concerned with the ACC scheme’s failings.
Yet the Audit Office inquiry is also limited. Its website says the inquiry will review the effectiveness and efficiency of ACC's case management processes and procedures. It will look at ACC's rehabilitation policy and practice, claims streaming, claims payment accuracy, and dispute resolution.
Yet a spokesperson from the Audit Office told me this week that Disputes Resolution Services will not figure greatly. The review so far has not extended to interviewing claimants or advocate groups, although that may change. Although it does extend to some assessment processes it does not extend into looking at dodgy assessors and medical providers who overcharge and provide substandard reports which lead to claimants being disentitled. It does not extend to complaints to the AC complaint’s office or to complaints made to the Ombudsman. It does not extend to the share portfolio that ACC have. Last month ACC lost a several million dollars off the value of their AMP shares alone – presumably invested originally with levy payer’s money. It gained some of that back with Trans Rail shares when they were purchased a few weeks ago.
Maybe when the Audit Report comes out, that may provide a platform for a Select Committee inquiry. Don’t hold your breath, though.
At the end of the day, what would a select committee inquiry achieve?