Minister considering ACC 'privatisation' report

Last updated 18:14 23/04/2010

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ACC Minister Nick Smith isn't confirming or denying a report that the Government is likely to open up workplace insurance to private competition.

A taskforce set up to examine accident insurance, the ACC Stocktake Steering Group, has delivered an interim report to Dr Smith and Radio New Zealand reported today it outlined introducing competition in the workplace account.

The Government has previously indicated it might do this, depending on the recommendations that come from the group.

"An interim report from the ACC Stocktake Steering Group has been received by the minister," a spokesman for Dr smith said.

"It has yet to be considered. The work of the steering group is continuing, with it not due to report back until the end of June."

Labour's ACC spokesman, David Parker, said the Government intending privatising ACC.

"The inevitable result of creating profit margins for private insurance companies and higher administration of regulatory costs is that hard-working New Zealand families will pay more and receive less care and protection," he said.

"The Government needs to urgently clarify how far their privatisation plans extend."

Mr Parker said the beneficiaries would be Australian financial institutions and the lawyers who would be called in to fight legal battles.

Green Party ACC spokesman Kevin Hague said he had been expecting the move since the Government and the ACT Party struck a deal to pass legislation which raised levies and cut entitlements.

"ACC is a world-leading's not broken, it's just a question of the funding mechanism that you choose," he said.

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said there would be widespread opposition to opening up ACC to private insurers.

Other countries, including Australia, had done it and it didn't work, she said.

Former ACC chairman Ross Wilson, who was stood down by the Government and then replaced, said the ACC model was among the best in the world and privatisation should only be allowed if there was evidence it would improve the system.

"Is this based on an ideological belief that private is better, or is it based on some evidence from somewhere in the world that we have a model that will work more effectively because of private insurance involvement?" he asked.

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