It’s refreshing to see some proper investigative journalism in this morning’s Dominion Post, with a revelation from Vernon Small that while National continues to try and downplay ACC and talk about “no privatisation in the first term,” a report from John Key’s old firm Merrill Lynch suggests National’s privatisation plans are an open secret among Aussie insurance companies, who are lining up for windfall profits.
“Publicly, as best we can identify, and contrary to the statements made by several insurers we have met with in New Zealand, the National Party has made no formal statement on its plans for the ACC,” the report by analyst Andrew Kearnan says.
“Informally, however, we understand the National Party has been very clear in saying it will privatise the ACC.”
It is expected such a privatisation programme would involve the handing over of the workers’ compensation and motor casualty accounts to private insurers, worth $2.1 billion in new ‘premium’ income to the Aussie insurance companies.
The cost of this will of course fall to ordinary Kiwis, who will be forced to pay higher premiums for reduced coverage, as both Merrill Lynch and PriceWaterhouseCoopers point out. Clearly this is not a party with New Zealanders’ best interests at heart.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out National’s telling the public one thing and its backers in the insurance industry another on this one. You’ll recall this is exactly what happened last election when National met secretly with the private insurance lobby to collude on ACC policy, which was then deliberately withheld from the public to avoid political fallout.
Ultimately it worked for National last election – even when the damning memo leaked it was lost in the bustle and confusion of the election campaign and voters went to the polls none the wiser. National’s hoping to get away with the same trick this time; it’s up to the media to make sure that doesn’t happen.
UPDATE: Selected pages from the Merryl Lynch report [JPEG, 300k] are available by clicking the thumbnails below: