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Sloppy as well as slippery - John Key on ACC

Hon Maryan Street
Minister for ACC

17 July 2008 Media Statement

Sloppy as well as slippery - John Key gets his facts wrong on ACC

John Key has got so many of his facts wrong on ACC that it beggars belief injured New Zealanders could actually trust National to protect their interests, says ACC Minister Maryan Street.

“In the last 24 hours Mr Key has told the public privatisation of ACC will result in safer workplaces for workers. Yet the facts show New Zealand workplace injury rates are significantly lower than those in Australia – and as everybody now knows, it is the Aussie insurers who would be running the show under National.

“A February report comparing the latest workplace injury figures shows Australia’s serious injury and disease claim rates for workers’ compensation is 9.4 claims per million hours worked in Australia, compared with the lower 7.4 rate here.

“Mr Key told Radio Live “in Australia their (workers) rehabilitation rate has been much quicker”. The facts are that New Zealand workers return to work faster than their Australian counterparts. The latest figures show 39 per cent of injured workers in Australia receive compensation for six weeks or longer, compared with just 31 per cent in New Zealand,” Maryan Street said.

“Mr Key said the Accredited Employer Programme (AEP), which allows some employers to self-insure, enabled them to use private insurers. He could not be more wrong. The facts are that these employers are explicitly prohibited from using private insurers.

Mr Key claimed there were about 500 employers on the scheme. The facts are there are 145 AEP contracts, Maryan Street said.

“Mr Key told Radio Live he believed there should be an independent ombudsman to investigate ACC claims, and has also said ACC should not be judge and jury when it comes to disputes.

“The facts are there are already significant review rights and a further right of appeal through the courts. The Ombudsman is already used in some ACC disputes, as is the Health and Disability Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner,” she said.

“Further, it should be noted dispute rates in New Zealand are very low, at 0.2 per cent for workplace claims, compared to nine per cent in Australia.”

“Mr Key has claimed approval ratings for ACC are only 50 per cent. The facts are that client satisfaction ratings – ie people who have accessed ACC – are 86 per cent for short-term clients and 80 per cent for long-term clients. General public trust and confidence ratings are 60 per cent.

“Mr Key has alternately promised “lower premiums” under privatisation and then said “I’m not convinced there’ll be a huge reduction in levies.” Which is it Mr Key?

“This is about as decisive and convincing as his statement on Checkpoint last night that National was “almost certainly likely” to privatise the Work Account,” Maryan Street said.

“Then there is his apparent unfamiliarity with the fundamental principles underpinning the scheme. On Radio Live he described the principles as “no fault, 24 hour, no fault, blah, blah, blah.”

“Well that’s reassuring.”

If Mr Key has actually read the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report as he claims - which is 472 pages long, not the 200 pages Mr Key claims – he would know there is no need for a comprehensive evaluation of ACC because that’s what PriceWaterhouseCoopers has already done.

“He would also know that the report finds ACC to be world-leading, that the state monopoly is the best way to run it and that privatisation would require a major increase in regulatory costs, which National claims to oppose. It’s pretty simple really.”


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