There’s a lot of talk about the ACC budget deficit and National’s use of the issue to create an environment in which their privatisation scheme can roll with the minimum political fall-out.
Any doubt I had that this was their plan evaporated this morning when I heard Nick Smith on RNZ moving the story along by talking about maybe having to increase levies.
You see the ACC “blow out” is an anchor-story. It’s a big newsworthy story that can be spun with an “urgent” media conference and get lots of press that then anchors a whole stream of smaller stories that wouldn’t have got any coverage without it.
And National is doing exactly that. The urgent media conference was a great piece of theater as was the “ministerial inquiry”, and the lines “billion dollar blow-out” (gotta love that alliteration) and “ticking time-bomb” (oh noz! the clock is ticking!) were clearly prepared well in advance. The aim was to make as big a splash as possible and they pulled out the stops to do so.
Now they’ve created this anchor expect to see lots and lots and lots of minor ACC stories such as Nick’s ‘levies could rise’ bunkum spill out over the next few weeks with lines like “this follows closely on the heels of the billion dollar blow-out” and “against the background of a government inquiry in to the ACC timebomb” in them.
After a few months of this coverage it will look like there are a million things wrong with ACC. And then? Well, who could blame them for flogging it off?