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Government Gambling With Workers Lives - HIH

MEDIA RELEASE
9 February 2000

For immediate release

GOVERNMENT GAMBLING WITH WORKERS LIVES - HIH

The Government is gambling with the lives of workers by putting its faith in an organisation [ACC] which says it can change, but has not shown where the expertise to do so is going to come from, HIH Managing Director Ross Chapman said today

"The vast majority of workers are benefiting from the privatised scheme, through the incentives for employers to make their workplaces safer," Mr Chapman said.

HIH Insurance today presented its submission on the Accident Insurance Bill, which showed the safety benefits workers were enjoying in the competitive workplace compensation market.

"At the end of the day, the only difference between the system introduced last year and the old ACC scheme is that we now have competition," Mr Chapman said.

"It must be asked: why is this Government so scared of competition? Why is it moving with such haste to undo the current system?"

HIH's achievements include:
· Workplace deaths down 70 per cent on what was forecast
· Claim numbers down 30 per cent
· Lost time injuries down 25 per cent
· Disputes levels of less than 0.2 per cent (four times lower than ACC's dispute rate)

Forecasts were developed by actuaries and were based on data provided by ACC. HIH's performance shows what can be achieved with active health and safety involvement, early claims intervention and rehabilitation programmes to get the employee back to work.

HIH was asked whether it would be prepared to accept a cap in premiums, if it was confident premium levels were set at adequate levels.

"Premium caps destroy the incentives for employers to make workplaces safer. If an employer knows premiums cannot rise, there is no incentive to make the workplace safer for workers," said Mr Chapman.

"The focus must be on workers. Competition has delivered benefits the monopoly scheme couldn't."

Ends

For further information contact

Ross Chapman
Managing Director
HIH Insurance
021 965 303

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