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It’s called politics, Colin

Written By: - Date published: 4:11 am, October 16th, 2009 - 30 comments
Categories: ACC, Media - Tags:

Colin, I think we need to discuss your work:

the conspiracy theory peddled by Labour and the EPMU (i.e. Labour) that somehow this is all just a VRWC to derail the ACC, lower public confidence in it, and then sell it to the highest (or any) bidder just doesn’t ring true for me.

acc-undermine-200Don’t you remember the Hollow Men? Don’t you remember the letters exposing how the Insurance Council buys National policy? Don’t you even remember that last time they were in government, National privatised ACC? Or National’s policy to privatise ACC at the last election? It’s not a ‘conspiracy’. They’re not being evil. Undermining public faith in a policy in preparation for changing it is just common sense, just politics. The privatisation agenda is what you expect from the insurance industry, the advocates of neo-liberalism (the Business Roundtable), and a party whose ideology is based on free-market economics. Of course they cooperate and coordinate. Do you think it was a coincidence that the BRT had a press release out praising the ACC cuts a minute after Smith’s one announcing them?

I can’t believe someone with chairman John Judge’s commercial background is going to put his reputation on the line just to help the Government push a particular political ideology. Judge is not going to claim that the very existence of the ACC is under threat if it’s not.

John Judge was handpicked by Nick Smith after he fired Ross Wilson, do you think that Smith just picked some random person? Of course he bloody didn’t. Think it through. Judge is an ideologue, that’s why he got the job. Surprisingly, having a commercial background does not rule you out of being the kind of person who supports selling public assets to commercial interests.

there have now been three relatively independent reviews of ACC’s financial position, and all of them have come up with the conclusion that it is in the poo

Which “relatively independent” reports are these? I’d be interested to know who funded their production. And what do they actually say? Have you actually read these supposed reports that you don’t name?

there’s little doubt that the additions made to the scheme by Labour a couple of years ago – including things like lump-sum payouts for the families of suicide victims, and physiotherapy, simply aren’t affordable any more.

Explain how they aren’t affordable. How much do they cost? You don’t know. Why can’t they be paid for out of the existing surplus? You don’t know. How is it we can afford tax cuts and $73 billion in subsidies for carbon polluters but not some physio? You don’t know. You’re just repeating the first spin line you heard.

even if National had somehow managed to convince ACC’s auditors, and John Judge, and Treasury, and anyone else who’s looked at the books to take part in the VRWC, it would all be for nought cos quite frankly, no one would touch ACC with a bargepole anyway

National didn’t ‘convince’ these people, they all have the same ideology. Apart from the auditors but as you haven’t read what they said, we’ll leave that to one side. No-one would want to buy ACC now because of the unfunded tail. Private insurers need to operate on a fully-funded basis, unlike a state compensation scheme … but if that state scheme were to be fully funded, well then it becomes an attractive buy … starting to see what’s going on now?

Fully funding means that like a commercial insurer, ACC is required to hold enough in reserve to meet the claims it expects to have to pay out on over a given time. It has never operated like this before, but is now required to. Originally this was to happen by 2014. The Government – and in fact Labour too – wants to push this out to 2019.

Actually, Labour wanted to do this first, and National has now twice prevented David Parker putting his private members’ bill to do it on the order paper. In fact, many in the left are starting to wonder what the point of fully funding is other than prepping ACC for privatisation. We don’t fully fund health, education, superannuation, transport, or anything else. We shoud dpush out full funding or, better, move to a part funded model using the current assets.

National doesn’t have the votes to get the changes through Parliament yet, either, although it probably will manage it eventually because it’s cleverly set up a straw man in the form of even higher increases proposed by ACC that don’t require a law change.

You’re, you’re actually praising the government for putting up a overblown argument designed to misrepresent the real situation – a strawman? Aren’t you meant to expose and destroy strawmen, not worship them?

Having said all that, I do think Nick Smith has over-egged the pudding a little bit.

This is the middle ground fallacy, and it’s something a lot of casual observers of any debate fall into. Group A claims the answer is 1, Group B says the answer is 10, so I guess the answer is about 5. That’s understandable in the casual observer. It’s not OK from a professional political journalist. Your job, Colin, is to assess the competing arguments and report on what you think where you think each is valid or invalid, weak or strong.

If I wanted to hear ‘I guess the truth is somewhere in the middle but I tend to feel the spin I heard first is more true’ I could ask my barber’s opinion.

30 comments on “It’s called politics, Colin ”

  1. You are joking? I wish in my wildest dreams the Nats were reformists.
    Do nothing middle grounders is all they are and ever will be.

  2. BLiP 2

    You gotta wonder if this Espiner isn’t sharpening up his CV for some cushy National Ltd® position being dangled in front of him. How else can you explain it . . . he’s not really that thick, is he?

    Mind you, its probably in the best interests of the foreign-owned multi-national he works for to ensure that the Gallery packed with incompetents. Can’t have the people knowing the facts – they might make an informed decision on election day and then where would we be?

  3. RedLogix 3


    Following on from the ‘strawman’ argument:

    Therefore if parties don’t vote for National’s bill, the Government can accuse them of agreeing to even higher imposts on the public. That is quite clever.

    From memory Colin has a habit of this kind of thing, characterising the Nats little attempts at deceptive, manipulative politics as ‘clever’. You can almost see the guy sqirming with pleasure as he types this crud.

  4. IrishBill 4

    National even state in their policy that they want to open the work account to competition (i.e. privatisation) this term.

  5. andy 5

    Political reporting is all about the ‘Horse Race’ of politics, who is in the lead, what form they have in this particular race.

    Facts and figures get in the way of the high stakes drama of the race, winners and losers.

    This comment on the ‘Rugby’s not the winner’ blog post, may or may not be him. If it does it speaks volumes (Comment #75) about the man and his reporting style.

    colin espiner #75 01:40 pm Oct 15 2009

    KiwiKraut, on the contrary, it’s always fun when I post a blog saying something needs to be done and Key needs to intervene and fix things and then he does! Not that I’m claiming to have any influence of course


  6. Craig Glen Eden 6

    My vote is he is looking for the cushy job.

    This guy is so far up Keys arse its just sickening. He is not a political reporter he is Keys apologist. When he is on TV I just change chanel now.

    Espiner is a disgrace and is letting the public down by continual not laying out the facts on any issue. If I wanted ill informed opinion I would go across the road to the pub.

    • ieuan 6.1

      Craig Glen Eden – Guyon is the Espiner that is on TV, Colin is the Espiner that writes for ‘Stuff’. The article above was written by Colin.

  7. ghostwhowalksnz 7

    I would doubt he would get the offer for a cushy job in the beehive, they arent that stupid for their employment process ( the Ministers are whole different category).

    There is nothing wrong is writing about the political race, but the real nuts and bolts of policy is a different story that requires facts. Unfortunately Colin thinks they are the same

  8. gingercrush 8

    Oh go shed some tears lefties. Seriously, it is getting absolutely boring when you always criticise the media for being bias towards the right. When there are numerous right-wing people that feel the media is bias for the left.The real problem is that this left-wing opposition are entirely incapable of getting any traction in the media. The media may well be partly to blame for that. But until the left gets real and get themselves and their views into the media. They only have themselves to blame.

    • Marty G 8.1

      So, no substantive response to the points raised, just a little cry from ginge?

      And I love the ‘well, the media’s a bunch of spin recyclers, lump it’ attitude. It might be true but do you think it’s good enough?

    • felix 8.2

      ginge, when you say

      The media may well be partly to blame for that

      what do you mean?

    • ieuan 8.3

      ‘The real problem is that this left-wing opposition are entirely incapable of getting any traction in the media.’

      So you haven’t seen the Christchurch Press headline this morning that (in big black capitals) screams ‘ACC BACKLASH’ then?

      It says:
      *Government lacks numbers to pass ACC bill,
      *Crash numbers used to justify motorcycle increase are wrong,
      *Nick Smith apologies for remarks about suicides,
      *etc etc

      National are taking a pounding over this and you, gingercrush, seem to have your head in the sand.

      • gingercrush 8.3.1

        I’m not denying National has had a dreadful week. I even said so in the small hours at this blog. But that doesn’t mean Labour is getting traction.

        The real problem I have with Labour and how Labour’s view is being penetrated in the media. Is that it’s “National scaremongering”. Well National may well be scaremongering. But can’t Labour come up with another damn line or another line of attacks for these ACC changes. Labour’s attack on nearly anything National is doing or does is that they’re scaremongering. The public doesn’t want to hear that. They didn’t wish to hear it before the election and they don’t want to hear it now. Are Labour just eternally hoping eventually New Zealanders will listen to them?

        When the public sees ACC having a huge loss and all Labour has to say is that National is scaremongering. Its hard to imagine they Labour will be listened to. Perception plays such a huge part in politics and for Labour, they may well be right about ACC and what National is doing. But they certainly aren’t helping matters.

    • BLiP 8.4

      Ginge, you said:

      The media may well be partly to blame for that. But until the left gets real and get themselves and their views into the media. They only have themselves to blame.

      If the media may “well be partly to blame” them how can the Left “have only themselves to blame”?

      You’re an idiot.

    • DeeDub 8.5

      FFS Ginger, I’ve been reading here for over a year and you STILL insist on using the word ‘bias’ incorrectly!!!

      The media IS BIASED


      The media HAS A BIAS


      ‘The media is bias’ or ‘for being bias . . .’

      PLEASE sort it out!?!

    • roger nome 8.6

      What a nothing response GC. Why are you here?

  9. HitchensFan 9

    Hi – sorry Eddie, I meant to make these comments in a longer piece but ran out of time this week.
    Marty is absolutely right in his comments about the privatisation agenda. As I said in a post earlier this week, in the first half of this year I attended a one-day conference on the future of ACC (Sue Bradford was also there I noticed, but left marginally before I did which makes me suspect she was as disgusted with the whole debacle as I was).
    Apart from David Parker who made a brilliant speech (check it out here: http://www.conferenz.co.nz/reviewing-nzs-accident-compensation-system-summit-papers.html), the majority of the conference involved various representatives from the insurance industry and business community positively salivating at what privatisation of ACC was going to mean for them. They clearly knew something the rest of NZ didn’t at that point.
    And I had thought the conference would be a celebration of the world-beating Woodhouse Principles and the social contract underlying the scheme, with healthy discussion on how the scheme could be improved.
    I left at lunchtime in absolute disgust.
    So anyone who thinks that we are not being softened up for privatisation is just deluding themselves completely.

  10. Anthony Karinski 10

    As far as I know John Judge was close to key people in National before he was made ACC chief. I’ve also been told he was in need of a job. Don’t think a grateful mate who’s been done a favour is not going to play the game asked of him.

  11. Blue 11

    Will Colin eat his blog again if he’s wrong?

  12. Ianmac 12

    Marty. A great meal for thought. A lot to take in. I guess the good fortune is to have a Colin post to bounce off.
    It does seem certain that ACC will be privatised. Is this a good thing? I can’t see how a private business can run without profit therefore higher costs. I notice that the Southern Cross Healthcare ad finishes with “We are not in this for profit. We are here to help you.” Or close to those words. Yeah Right!

    • George D 12.1

      Except, they won’t call it a privatisation, just “opening to competition”, and Colin will continue to think that he isn’t wrong.

  13. bobo 13

    Colin time after time contradicts what he said a few weeks earlier in his blogs. He should stick to eating paper.. The media is made up mostly of pre-written press releases rehashed by so called political journalists who get paid for very little actual research, digging, cross checking of stories. Of course the heads of ACC are politically appointed by the government of the day and Colin trying to make out John Judge is a neutral party is naive . Maybe his niche is reviewing children movies in the tvguide.

  14. Plum 14

    “In fact, many in the left are starting to wonder what the point of fully funding is other than prepping ACC for privatisation. We don’t fully fund health, education, superannuation, transport, or anything else. We shoud dpush out full funding or, better, move to a part funded model using the current assets.”

    But.. it was Labour who introduced the legal requirement to fully fund the Scheme in the first place. Why did they think it was a good idea then and not a good idea now?

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