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Desperate National tries to mislead on ACC

Desperate National tries to mislead on ACC

ACC Minister Nick Smith has blatantly attempted to mislead New Zealanders on Labour’s ACC policy, Labour ACC spokesman David Parker says.

“Mr Smith today claimed Labour’s position on ACC is to support criminals inappropriately receiving compensation.

The following extract from the Labour Party’s minority report in the official select committee report on the bill is a public document that the Minister should have read. It states:

“Labour members agree that that an offender like Graeme Burton
should not receive lump-sum or earnings-related compensation. If
offenders such as he have received compensation, then that is because
of ACC’s failure to properly apply the current law.

“There is nothing to stop ACC using its existing power to apply to
disentitle claimants more often, and we would approve of its doing
so. Its failure to do so operationally is no excuse for the draconian
change now proposed.

“The provisions in the bill apply to any offence where the maximum
theoretical penalty is two years or more in prison, and the offender
is imprisoned or put on home detention for any period (that is, even
a week!).

“This is unjust on a number of levels. For a start, the offender has
already received the appropriate criminal penalty. Under this bill,
they receive an additional penalty, which can also be disproportionate
to the scale of their crime. This would affect not just the offender,
but also their family. This outcome arises despite the injured
offender having paid ACC levies through their work, and their petrol
and registration fees.

“The change would disproportionately affect lower-paid New
Zealanders. They are more likely to end up in prison because they
lack the means to pay large fines or reparation, which can enable a
better-off person to avoid a custodial sentence.

“ACC already has the ability to apply to the court to cancel or reduce
ACC cover where it would be manifestly unjust for it to be paid. It
transpires that ACC have applied to the court only 12 times. In nine
of the 12 times the court agreed and wholly or partly disentitled the
offender.

“We were told that part of the reason ACC has not applied more often
is that they do not always know the claimant has been convicted. We
asked whether data sharing was prohibited by law, because we would
have been willing to fix that by amending the bill to provide for it.
We were told this was unnecessary as this was now being resolved
with the Department of Corrections.

“The proposed change applies not just to the most serious crimes like
murder, but also offences like careless use of a motor vehicle causing
death. The list of offences caught by the change runs to many pages.
We agree with the New Zealand Law Society and others that blanket
disentitlement, subject to discretion for the Minister to reinstate, is
bad policy. We have confidence that the courts are better placed to
make this decision.

“Accordingly we oppose what is patently a populist change.”

“The Minister’s misrepresentation of the Labour Party position is unbecoming of him,” David Parker said.

ENDS


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