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Minister’s comments on ACC given a cautious welcome

Media release on behalf of the ACC Futures Coalition - 15 March 2012

Minister’s comments on ACC given a cautious welcome

The ACC Futures Coalition today gave a cautious welcome to the statements attributed to the Minister of ACC that she was "not interested" in a repeat of 1998 when National opened work injury cover to private insurers, only for them to be excluded a year later when Labour took power.

“We have been saying for some time that the proposal to privatise the work account was not a sensible option,” said ACC Futures spokesperson Hazel Armstrong. “The Minister seems to be taking a more pragmatic approach as it is clear the that public provision of essential public services will generally be cheaper than private providers, because there is no need to return a profit or pay taxes.”

“We also agree that what is required is an enduring framework for ACC, but we are concerned that the Minister appears to see the future in the extension of the Accredited Employers scheme,” said Ms. Armstrong. “That programme was always designed for large employers and extending to smaller employers may well expose injured workers to greater risk as many will not have the capacity to manage workplace injury properly. They will rely instead on third party claims administrators whose client is the employer, rather than the injured worker.”

“The previous Minister proposed that the extension would be facilitated by measures such as weakening the audit requirements that employers have to current meet in order to join and stay in the scheme,” said Ms. Armstrong. “Those are not always applied stringently at the moment and we would be concerned if they were watered down even further.”

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“There is nothing in this proposal, or in the previous plans for privatisation of the work account, about injured workers,” said Ms. Armstrong. “It is very employer focused and leaves unanswered serious questions about how those suffering from occupational disease or serious injury will be managed.”

“It is clear that a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes since the consultation last year, but to the best of our knowledge there has been no consultation with consumer groups or unions. That needs to change if we are to have a system that responds to the needs of injured workers.”

“Hopefully we can have some dialogue about what the government intends,” concluded Ms. Armstrong.


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