MP: Rebstock rules the vulnerable

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 05:00 05/09/2012
PAULA REBSTOCK
MAARTEN HOLL/Dominion Post
NEW ACC CHAIR: Paula Rebstock.

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Many vulnerable people will be living under the part control of Paula Rebstock, an Opposition MP says, after the Government enforcer was appointed to chair another Crown board.

Ms Rebstock, appointed in May as chairwoman of a Work and Income board, was yesterday announced as head of the embattled ACC board.

"My view is pretty much, if you want something done, you give it to the right person," ACC Minister Judith Collins said.

Green MP Kevin Hague said there was now "an awful lot of vulnerable people who will be living lives that are controlled to quite a high degree by Paula Rebstock".

"I'm not convinced that is necessarily what we want to see," he said.

"But I think there are some pluses. If she takes that sort of hard-arsed, enforcement approach and focuses that internally with the purpose of creating the culture change that the public expects and has a right to . . . that's probably a good thing."

Ms Rebstock is also leading an inquiry into high-level leaks of Foreign Affairs information and is deputy chairwoman of the Railways Corporation.

She was appointed interim chairwoman of ACC after John Judge was shown the door by Ms Collins in June.

When Ms Rebstock's ACC role was made permanent yesterday, Ms Collins also announced three more new appointments to the board. New deputy chairman Trevor Janes, Professor Des Gorman and Kristy McDonald, QC, replace the departed John McCliskie, Murray Hilder and Rob Campbell.

All three left in the same week as Mr Judge and chief executive Ralph Stewart stepped down in the aftermath of a privacy scandal which began with revelations that the personal details of 6748 ACC clients were sent to Bronwyn Pullar, an ACC claimant.

Mr Stewart has since agreed to stay on as chief executive until a replacement is found, and Ms Collins yesterday said she expected that appointment would be "one of the first things on the agenda" of the new board.

Questions were again raised about privacy protocols this week after it emerged that ACC sent information about an elderly client to the wrong person and then took six weeks to tell her about it.

Ms Collins has called for a "zero tolerance" approach to privacy breaches and yesterday said it "beggared belief" that new protocols were not introduced when a new electronic filing system was implemented three years ago.

"I don't see that that's a problem that can't be fixed, but it will take a lot of effort, a lot of change in procedures and that is starting to happen," she said.

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Mr Hague said there was a danger when an organisation moved to scapegoat people who made mistakes.

"I don't think it's possible to go too far in terms of expectations of very high quality services. There ought to be zero tolerance for privacy breaches, for example.

"But it's critically important that we recognise that not everything is going to be right straight away and that, whatever the systems are, staff in general come to work intending to do a good job."

- Fairfax Media

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