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Maori amongst hardest hit by ACC cuts – advice

11 December 2009
Media Statement

Maori amongst the hardest hit by ACC cuts – official advice

Maori will be amongst the hardest hit by changes to ACC according to official advice released this week, raising further questions about why the Maori Party is yet to condemn the moves, says Labour’s Maori Affairs spokesperson.

A Cabinet paper released this week shows Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples’ own department has advised that ‘the impacts of the proposed changes are likely to have a disproportionate effect on Maori.’

‘Maori are more likely to be employed in high risk jobs, be from low income families and have higher rates of imprisonment,’ the Te Puni Kokiri advice says.

“Labour's been saying this for a while, but now we know this is what officials have been advising the Government as well. In light of this, it’s rather difficult to understand why the Maori Party has dithered on whether to support the legislative changes ACC Minister Nick Smith is proposing,” says Parekura Horomia.

“It’s time the Maori Party stood up for hard-working Maori families and added its voice to the growing chorus of opposition to Nick Smith’s mean-spirited plans.

“Maori typically have higher injury rates than other groups because significant numbers of our people work in primary industries such as forestry, farming and fisheries which are more dangerous professions.

“Maori are also over-represented amongst lower paid workers, which officials from a range of government agencies have pointed out will be hardest hit by the changes. So our whanau will get hit particularly badly by the changes.

“The Bill before Parliament plans to reduce income compensation for some 400,000 casual and seasonal workers.
“It will also force low income earners to wait until the sixth week of their injury to have their earnings-related compensation increased to the minimum wage, instead of the current situation when it happens during the second week, if the 80 per cent of earnings compensation would drop it below the minimum wage.

“There are also harsh changes which will reduce ACC support for hearing loss incurred through the workplace and will result in people missing out on hearing aids unless they can afford to pay for them themselves. Other changes will also impact negatively on Maori. It’s just not on,” Parekura Horomia says.

ENDS

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