Bill continues unprecedented attack on ACC

Published: Tue 27 Oct 2009 04:35 PM
27 October 2009 Media Statement
Bill continues unprecedented attack on ACC
The Government’s unprecedented attack on New Zealand’s world-leading accident compensation scheme continued today with the introduction of legislation which will reduce cover for injured New Zealanders, says Labour’s ACC spokesperson David Parker.
“It comes on top of last week’s announcement that the Government is investigating privatising a range of ACC accounts – a breach of National’s election pledge to investigate opening up the Work Account only – which will see Zealanders will pay more for less so private insurers can make profits.
“It also follows major Government-directed operational changes within ACC, instigated without any public consultation, which will cut costs by denying seriously injured New Zealanders support for home help, home and vehicle modification and many other entitlements.
Cuts included in today’s legislation include:
• Reduced entitlements for work-related diseases which will remove incentives for employers to make their workplaces safer and be unfair on workers who become sick as a result of things like chemicals they are exposed to at work.
• New powers for ACC to charge different levies for different cars. If you can afford a new, safer car you pay less. If not, you pay a higher levy.
• The removal of fair access to income compensation for part-time, casual and seasonal workers, which will discriminate against some 400,000 workers.
• The reversal of changes made last year to improve access for New Zealanders over 65, who want to return to the workforce, to vocational rehabilitation so they can get back to work.
• Changes to make it harder for people with hearing loss caused by their work, to access hearing aids.
• Removing provision for compensation for a mental injury caused after witnessing a traumatic event in the workplace, such as train driver who witnessed a suicide on the track or a bank teller involved in an armed robbery.
“The Bill’s regulatory statement notes it does not meet Treasury’s Regulatory Impact Analysis requirements because the costs saved by ACC will be shifted to other government agencies and individuals and those costs are not quantified.
“This is one of Labour’s primary concerns with all the changes underway and that is that the vast bulk of costs won’t go away – they will simply be shifted and in the case of individuals, they will simply miss out if they can’t afford them,” says David Parker.
“In addition to the suite of entitlement cuts already unveiled, a stocktake of ACC now underway will inevitably result in another tranche. This is such a fundamental assault on the principles of the ACC scheme that its future is now at serious risk.”

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