Eight Green ACC Amendments - Backgrounder
06 September 2001
1. Ministerial Advisory Panel (Part 2, Clause 30) Provides for an expert panel to be set up to advise the Minister on gradual process injuries and occupational diseases, such as OOS and workplace poisoning by asbestos, chemicals, toxins or radiation. This will help ensure that workers suffering these kinds of illnesses or injuries do not suffer long waiting periods and needless humiliation in trying to prove they are eligible for ACC, as has happened in the past for some workers with OOS.
2. Deemed Decisions (Part 3, Clause 64) A technical amendment, which closes a loophole in the Bill potentially allowing ACC to escape their duty to consider cases within a reasonable time.
3. Permanent Pensions (Part 4, Clause 68) Requires the Government to examine the options around a permanent pension within the next two years. The Green Party believes that the few people who are permanently incapacitated for work should be paid a fair rate of compensation without harassment until they are eligible for super. This amendment guarantees that a thorough look at the complicated issues around permanent incapacity will take place without too much time going by.
4. Onus of Proof (Part 5, Clause 126) Shifts the burden of proof onto ACC in the event that ACC claims that a mistake has been made and that an entitlement should be reversed. Up until now, when ACC has claimed that a mistake has been made, the burden has been on the claimant to access all their past medical records and prove that they are, in fact, sick or injured, which has often been time-consuming and costly for them.
5. Resources for Advocacy Groups (Part 7, Clause 236) Provides for assistance (including financial support) from ACC to advocacy groups, in a similar way that the Department of Work and Income funds and assists advocacy groups helping beneficiaries. This would recognise the work of advocacy groups in defending and promoting the rights of people on ACC, and also that taking on ACC cases is one of the hardest jobs that welfare advocates ever undertake.
6. Ethical Investment (Part 7, Clause 246) ACC has almost $3 billion invested, mainly in equities and securities, according to their 2000 Annual Report. Part of their statement of intent is a commitment to reduce the incidence of personal injury. This Green Party amendment carries over this commitment into the investment arena, by requiring ACC to have an ethical investment policy and to report on environmental and social implications of their investment portfolio.
7. Regulations Relating to Rehabilitation (Part 7, Clause 246) Stops the current practice of requiring injured workers to make co-payments for medical treatment or physiotherapy treatment, in accordance with ILO conventions 12 and 17.
8. Survivors Grant (Schedule 1) Currently the spouse of a worker who dies in a workplace accident receives $4563.16, and their dependent children receive $2281.58. These levels are pathetic. This amendment ensures that families of workers killed on the job would provide proper compensation by raising those amounts to $50,000 and $20,000 respectively.