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Damning reports show Government’s role in ACC dysfunction

23 August 2012

Damning reports show Government’s role in driving ACC dysfunction

Reports into ACC provide the most compelling evidence yet that the Government’s focus on saving a buck has caused ACC to lose sight of its role in helping injured and vulnerable New Zealanders, the Green Party said today.

Following requests from the Green Party, reviews into the Bronwyn Pullar Privacy breach and ACC board governance were conducted by the Privacy Commissioner and the Auditor General. Reports on both were released today.

“They reveal a corporation in desperate need of a culture change which the Privacy Commissioner stated must ‘start at the very top’,” Green Party ACC spokesperson Kevin Hague said.

“The reports cite the previous ACC minister’s focus on denying claimants every dollar he could as driving the culture at the corporation.

“And they show that ACC was prepared to sustain human casualties in its drive to achieve the Government’s goal.

“The current minister must now lead the top level change that’s been called for.

“The reports reveal a corporation bumbling along with archaic ideas about communication and responsibility which meant it failed both to treat claimants with decency, and to recognise enormous risks to the organisation even when they hit it in the face,” Mr Hague said.

The Auditor General expresses concern that serous ‘accusations of systemic illegality and fraud were not taken seriously by the corporation’.

And the Privacy Commissioner highlighted ‘an almost cavalier attitude towards its clients and to the protection of their private information’.

“These are two of the most damning reports on a Government entity I’ve ever read.

“It is clear that if board chairman John Judge had not already resigned, he would have been sacked today,” Mr Hague said.

The reports highlight three key issues:

1. As a result of Nick Smiths’ direction to prioritise ACC's bottom line, the organisation had inadequate focus on the needs of its clients;
2. The culture policies and systems of the organisation are a chaotic shambles that are not fit for purpose;
3. Restoring public trust and confidence is an essential goal and will require very major change starting from the top.
“Given the seriousness of the findings, the Minster must now request that the Auditor General bring forward her review into claims management at ACC. Most of the serious claims Ms Pullar made appear not to have been considered by the board.

“What’s now needed is for visionary leadership to turn this organisation around and focus on the original principals on which it was founded.

“The Minister must ensure that future appointments to the board are up to this task,” Mr Hague said.

ENDS

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