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Insurance Council figures under fire

10 February 2000

Insurance Council figures under fire

The New Zealand Insurance Council's claim that there has been a more than 40 percent saving in workplace fatalities since the privatisation of workers' compensation was today challenged by Accident Insurance Minister Michael Cullen.

"The statement is based on inadequate and misleading analysis of the evidence, and is opportunistic in the extreme," Dr Cullen said.

The Council's figures cover the five months from July to November last year. During this time, there were 13 deaths from workplace accident. However by the end of December, the total had risen to 16, according to information supplied by the Accident Insurance Regulator.

"This was down on the same period in 1998 but up on 1997 when just 14 fatal workplace injuries were recorded," Dr Cullen said. "In other words, the point of comparison makes a great difference to the story the statistics tell. They are susceptible to manipulation.

"There is a further distortion in the Council's data base as experience shows the fatality rate tends to be much higher in the January to June months than in the second half of the year.

"For example, half of last year's fatalities occurred in the three months between January and March.

"And the Council is claiming credit for accident prevention work which should rightly go to ACC. The accident rate has been declining steadily in the last four years and was almost halved between 1995-96 and 1998-99.

"This reduction was in part due to public education campaigns led by the ACC. It is hard to imagine competing, profit-oriented insurance companies taking over that role from the ACC.

"That is a large part of the explanation for this Government's decision to rebuild ACC," Dr Cullen said. "We are determined to restore the focus on injury prevention and rehabilitation and believe these public interest objectives are best pursued by a publicly-owned organisation."


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