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Accident Insurance Bill Stops Overseas Takeovers

Accident Insurance Bill about stopping overseas takeover - Trade Union Federation

“The Accident Insurance (Transitional Provisions) Bill is a small bill with big implications”, Trade Union Federation President Maxine Gay told the special select committee considering the Bill today.

“All five of the private insurance companies who have invested in the workplace insurance market are wholly overseas owned. With the market itself valued at .5% of our total GDP, privatised ACC is a vivid example of what is wrong with New Zealand’s current social and economic direction.

“If we cannot back ourselves to run this scheme - whose very essence is community responsibility - then we have no hope of changing that direction and re-building a caring society with a strong economic base.

“New Zealand can - and must - run a single, state managed fund which supports New Zealand workers and business and whose surpluses remain in the country.

“It is abhorrent for the state to remove the common law right to sue for negligence and then compel the payment of a premium on every worker’s wages to private, overseas owned insurance companies. It is private enrichment at public expense.

“If nothing else, the balooning balance of payments deficit reminds us exactly where that private profit will go and why it cannot be allowed to continue.”

Ms Gay hit back at the NZ Insurance Council saying that while there was a lot of money going into its campaign it did not represent the interests of local business. She quoted from Canterbury Manufacturer’s Association CEO John Walley in the latest edition of the “NZ Manufacturer”:

A number of gains in the operation of ACC have been achieved in recent years, irrespective of the privatisation of the scheme. We encourage the Government to ensure that its new scheme has a strong board of directors and management that can lock in these strategic improvements.

“As Mr Walley recognises, where there is the political will, there is no reason why the state managed single fund scheme cannot equal and exceed the efficiency of private insurers. The difference is that unlike the overseas owned private insurers it will not want its pound of flesh at the end of the day,” said Ms Gay.

“Workers have already begun to feel the bite from private insurance companies and we have produced some evidence of that today. We believe business too can see that where there is the political will to make ACC work this is preferable in every way to allowing overseas companies to take over the scheme. It is a key political test for this Government to ensure that this takeover does does not occur,” Ms Gay concluded.

The TUF is scheduled to appear before the select committee at 11.20 am on 3 February.

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