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Govt recycling failed privatisation of ACC

October 23, 2009
For Immediate Use
Govt recycling failed privatisation of accident compensation

“All New Zealanders will pay the price for the government privatising accident compensation,” says Public Service Association national secretary Richard Wagstaff.

“The last time a National-led government allowed insurance companies to provide workplace accident compensation was a nightmare for injured workers and people trying to treat them.”

“People working with accident victims, such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists, know how chaotic it was.”

“They remember how confusing it was for accident victims when they tried to claim compensation from insurance companies.”

“The confusion and delays in dealing with insurance companies was so bad some patients gave up on trying get their injuries treated.”

“Employers also remember the chaos created the last time insurance companies provided workplace accident compensation under a National-led government,” says Richard Wagstaff.

The Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association stated this week that “employers are wary about the reintroduction of an open competitive market for ACC workplace accounts.”

The association’s occupational health and safety manager Paul Jarvie said: "The single year when we had a private market for ACC turned into a bun fight between insurers trying to capture business and employers trying get accident insurance within prescribed time frames."

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“We also know from research that accident compensation in New Zealand is cheaper, more efficient and more comprehensive than in Australia where insurance companies provides workplace accident compensation,” says Richard Wagstaff.

Last year a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ found that New Zealand’s state-controlled accident compensation is cheaper than privatised schemes because it doesn’t have to deliver a profit or cover the same marketing expenses as private companies.

The report concluded that accident compensation provided by ACC “performs as well or better than most other schemes we can observe around the world.”

“Despite the fact that privatising workplace accident compensation did not work in 1999, the government is recycling this failed policy,” says Richard Wagstaff.

“It’s ignoring the lessons of the past and evidence from overseas that privatising accident compensation will cost New Zealanders more and deliver less.”

“It’s clear this privatisation is driven by free market ideology and political expedience and we will all pay the price,” says Richard Wagstaff.


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