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Howard's End: Media Mobilising Against ACC

Published: Fri 25 Oct 2002 12:13 AM
With the latest scrutiny by The Press in Christchurch of the $3.8 billion ACC has invested, don't you just love it when the journalists from all sections of the media finally come together to expose the injustices being perpetrated by ACC and its subsidiary companies against their fellow New Zealanders. Maree Howard writes.
For some months Scoop was feeling a bit lonely in its exposure of the injustices being perpetrated by ACC and its employees against people who are injured.
Geoff Cummings from the NZ Herald, of course, did a good expose' in 2000 about injured claimants and the way they were being treated by ACC.
Following on from Scoop's exposures earlier this year it then started in earnest!
The DominionPost, the Sunday-Star-Times, the Otago Daily Times, many of the regional newspapers, the TVNZ Holmes Show, the NZ Herald, talkback radio, have all started to take a good hard look at ACC.
The TV programme 20/20, I understand, is about to run an in-depth story on ACC-appointed doctors which, by all accounts, will blow the socks off many people.
On this ACC issue, the media has finally become the watchdog that it was supposed to be, and not the lapdog which many media owners seemed to want.
I think the journo's, - who generally despise injustice - can take a bow.
The Press has reported that ACC has $25 million invested in DB Breweries and $23 million invested in rival Lion Nathan.
Alcohol Healthwatch director, Rebecca Willams, is not happy. ".....I would certainly raise questions about investing in breweries when alcohol is acknowledged as a key component of injury."
Instead of properly investing in claimants rehabilitation or prevention initiatives which are under-resourced, The Press reports that ACC's investments in brewery shares are likely to pay a much quicker return, through dividends and possibly share prices.
ACC also has $102.9 million invested in Telecom and other $5 million each invested in 37 other companies
Scoop reported some time ago that even the Government has got its sticky fingers on the money with ACC holding $1.1 billion of government securities.
As P T Barnum once said " There's a sucker born every minute" and New Zealander's are being taken as suckers in having to compulsory pay $2 billion each year for something which claimants are bitterly complaining they are not getting.
The ACC investment portfolio is performing well. But think of this. If you didn't have to pay the $2 billion in levies compulsorily each year, would ACC have been able to earn that money on the open market as a proper insurance company in order to have that money to invest?
And that is the crux. ACC is an insurance company and claimants are not getting tax-payer benefits. They are getting a return on their insurance for accident just the same as anyone else when they ding their car or their house is burgled.
One claimant recently told me a joke - The son of the Sultan of Brunei was asked by his father what he wanted for his birthday. The son said I've got most things but I would really like a mickey-mouse outfit - so his father bought him ACC.
OK, it's an oldie but still a goody in this ACC context.
There was someone else who said: "Never give a sucker an even break" and that's what New Zealanders have become - a bunch of suckers for putting up with it.
ENDS

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