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ACC Regulations A Breach Of Natural Justice: Hunt

Regulations that only came into force on July 1 are under attack from members of the Regulation Review Select Committee

The committee is an unusual beast in that it set up with the intention of being bi-partisan. It also does not look at policy issues per se, but at the effectiveness of the Government's regulations.

The committee is also intended to have the Opposition in the majority, but the somewhat shifting sands of this MMP Parliament have made that a bit more difficult to achieve.

The composition of the committee is: Arthur Anae (Deputy Chairperson), Shane Ardern, Mr Frank Grover, Marian Hobbs, Rt Hon. Jonathan Hunt (Chairperson), Nanaia Mahuta, Rana Waitai, and Annabel Young.

The Father of the House and the committee chair, Jonathan Hunt, says their look at the accident compensation regulations has pinpointed what appears to be a breach of natural justice.

In the past, the costs of review hearings on ACC decisions were decided on a case by case basis. Amongst the changes that came through in the reform of the ACC regime was the imposition of a ceiling on costs to applicants, which was set at $300.

ACC's reasoning for the change was to stop the process becoming a gravy train for lawyers, seeking reviews of ACC decisions at tax payers' expense. However Mr Hunt says submissions that the regulations are oppressive are persuasive.

Mr Hunt says people will have to fork out thousands of dollars of their own pocket to fund a review, while in many cases even a favourable outcome would bring less return. He believes the problems with the regulations are due to the Government's use of urgency to push through changes, that result in a lack of proper scrutiny.

The committee is set to recommend the Government review the regulations, the Minister responsible, Murray McCully says he has an open mind on the subject.

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