Told you so: Right pushes ACC privatisation

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, October 19th, 2009 - 53 comments
Categories: ACC, national/act government, privatisation - Tags:

Last Thursday, Colin Espiner was mocking all of us who said that National and other rightwing groups were trying to create a sense of crisis around ACC to soften us up for privatisation:

“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.

Now, I’m no highly-paid big-city political editor and maybe we should have all deferred to Colin’s manifest wisdom but even I could see this coming a mile away:

‘ACC may open to competition’

It turns out National is in secret talks with ACT about opening the Work Account of ACC to private competition.

acc-undermine-200National isn’t commenting about these secret talks but you can bet National’s big funders, the Insurance Council (remember this?), are involved. After all the Nats have been keeping the private insurers abreast of their secret plans to introduce part charges and cut compensation both measures that will undermine ACC and punish the poor the most.

You can bet that rightwing groups like the Business Roundtable are also letting Smith know that they think privatisation would be just swell.

Now, without wanting Colin to accuse me of being a conspiracy theorist, I can see National springing privatisation on us at the last minute. It is in their election policy after all.

[* means ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’, it’s a term used largely by right-wing bloggers to ridicule the idea that groups on the right work together to advance their political aims.]

53 comments on “Told you so: Right pushes ACC privatisation”

  1. TightyRighty 1

    how does competition equal privatisation? youhaven’t made that clear.

    • IrishBill 1.1

      How does it not?

    • Daveo 1.2

      It’s privatising the scheme. Services provided in the past by the state are now provided by a private company.

      Workers don’t get a choice in who provides their at work cover, their employer gets to make that choice.

      That means that as an employee I would have to battle with a private insurer rather than ACC. No choice, no discussion, just imposed on me by the National government to enrich its mates at my expense.

    • bobo 1.3

      Maybe National is going to set up a rival government owned accident insurance company to bid against ACC 🙂

    • felix 1.4

      What other sort of competition can you possibly imagine in that little brain of yours, upTighty?

      • TightyRighty 1.4.1

        if there is acc and the competition, how is that privatisation. I understand that your against privatisation, but competition? isn’t that just admitting that ACC is bloated and useless and doesn’t provide the most effective means of of accident compensation?

        • Daveo 1.4.1.1

          You simply don’t get it. When you replace the functions of the state with private companies that is privatisation.

          The right gets it when it’s the other way round. When Labour ended competition your lot correctly called it the “re-nationalisation” of ACC. Why’s it so hard to understand that when the opposite happens it’s called privatisation?

          • TightyRighty 1.4.1.1.1

            no daveo i get what your trying to say. it’s just incorrect thats all. opening up an industry that was previously under state control to competition is not the same as privatisation. royal mail is a public company operating in a competitive environment, and look how poorly that performs. thats what your scared of isn’t it, competition showing up how terribly acc performs.

            • toad 1.4.1.1.1.1

              TR, what I’m scared of is claimants being wrongly refused cover and/or entitlements under a privatised scheme because it is in the linancial interests of both insurers (lower payouts) and employers (lower levies) to do so.

              Sure, the employer gets a choice, but the injured person gets no choice as to which insurer covers them for their injury. They get the one that is cheapest for the employer, which means the one that is likely to be meanest in providing entitlements.

            • Daveo 1.4.1.1.1.2

              Well, you’re wrong. But we’ll leave it there because I realise I’m not going to get anywhere with you.

              As for why I’m concerned, the issue is that every independent report has shown that the current ACC system is the fairest and most efficient in the world. Breaking it up reduces everyone’s ACC rights and forces workers into dealing with unaccountable private insurers.

              Have you actually done any research? Start with the PWC report, then get back to me.

        • felix 1.4.1.2

          upTighty:

          if there is acc and the competition, how is that privatisation.

          It’s privatisation because the competition is private you freaking moron.

          You’re not really here for honest discussion, are you?

        • HitchensFan 1.4.1.3

          oh dear you poor wee soul. Who do you think will be providing the competition??!
          Dear oh dear

    • privatisation means it is no longer in the possession of we the people but run by profit oriented organisations which have never ever been better than state run medical support.

      Ask the Americans how their Medical system works. It’s expensive (in fact the most expensive in the world) does not perform (it’s much worse then ACC) and Cherry picks the people they want to insure I.e. the rich and the healthiest. The rest can, quite literally, drop dead.

      As Naom Chomski said: Privatisation does not mean you take a public
      institution and give it to some nice person. It means you take a
      public institution and give it to an unaccountable tyranny.

  2. bobo 2

    This could well turn into a horror summer for National , ACC will be just a minor issue if National repeals the foreshore & seabed act, I’m looking forward to the the christmas BBQ pit sessions with some of my friends who I know voted national at the last election , one who rides a 50cc motorbike 🙂

    • HitchensFan 2.1

      Excellent! Yes, it’s shaping up to be the summer of discontent alright. Can’t wait.

  3. Nick 3

    Competition for ACC?

    Bring it on.

  4. It turns out National is in secret talks with ACT about opening the Work Account of ACC to private competition.

    Given the talks are about … ACT … offering to back the ACC reform bill if National pledges progress on [National’s] own election promise to “investigate opening the work account to competition” it shouldn’t come as too great a surprise.

  5. Evidence-Based Practice 5

    Good turnout for Wellington lunchtime protest against ACC cuts today. Lots of sympathetic bystanders including the police who are set to lose out with moves towards privatisation or cuts to coverage.

    • toad 5.1

      And a good turnout in Auckland too – with a brief sit-in by some of the marchers at the Auckand ACC office. The police were noticeably more cooperative there than with most protests too. I guess it is often them who have to deal with the mess that results when people don’t get the therapy they need.

  6. scotty 6

    Good Listener editorial today re Nationals ‘ less than honest approach to acc discussions. sorry no link

    • Ianmac 6.1

      Wow Scotty. Gave up on the Listener monts ago but if the Editorial is a bit critical that would be amazing. They appear to me to be usually very pro National.

  7. tsmithfield 7

    I think tighty righty unfairly copped a lot of ridicule for his attempt to distinguish competition from privatisation.

    I think the distinction is very clear.

    Privatisation is when a government owned organisation is flogged off to the private sector.

    However, I don’t see any suggestion, even on this site, that the government has any such intention. Merely opening the government owned organisation to competition is not the same as privatising it since the government owned organisation is still government owned.

    • felix 7.1

      It’s a disingenuous and semantic distinction and as such it’s no surprise to see you defending it.

      Services currently provided by a publicly owned entity will be provided instead by privately owned entities, for a profit.

      Twist and turn like the worm you are but this is privatisation and you know it.

      • infused 7.1.1

        It’s not privatization, however hard you try to spin it.

        • felix 7.1.1.1

          Good luck explaining to the people of NZ that you can take something out of public hands and put it into private hands but it’s not really privatisation because… [insert whatever absurd definition of the word “private” you’re using today].

          Do let me know how that works out for you.

        • travellerev 7.1.1.2

          Actually it is.

          Private insurers will hand pick the rich and the healthy and make lots of money while a money starved public system will be left to cope with the poor and the unhealthy.

          It happened in Holland and it will happen here.

          They tried to solve the none insured “problem” caused by poverty by fining those who could not insure themselves.

          The same thing they want to do in the States. 30 million poverty stricken souls will be slapped with fines for not chucking up loads of dosh to insurers who won’t pay their medical bills anyway.

      • gitmo 7.1.2

        Privatisation definition… for wiki this is actually a pretty coherent description. (Hate those USA Zs though)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privatization

        • felix 7.1.2.1

          I hate them too, but partly because phonetically they make more sense to me.

          Must… resist…. bad spelling….

        • Graeme Edgeler 7.1.2.2

          USA Zs?

          I guess you’ve never looked in an Oxford English Dictionary – New Zealand and Australia are the outliers here. American English, Canadian English and British English all prefer the Z.

          • felix 7.1.2.2.1

            And?

          • Stacktwo 7.1.2.2.2

            Pedants’ Corner:

            In fact, most run-of-the-mill Oxford Dictionaries, the Cambridge University Press and “Fowler’s Modern English Usage” prefer “-ise”, while the magnum opus OED recommends the use of “-ize” for words of Greek origin. “-ise” has been standard for much of the news media in Britain for many years, and is running at a ratio of 3:2 against “-ize” in the British National Corpus. Wikipedia

  8. scotty 8

    tsmithfield,
    Which govt dept do suggest should compete with acc? or are suggesting acc should compete with private companies? . = ,private companies receiving public funds to usurp govt roll, = , Privatisation

  9. Adolf Fiinkensein 9

    If you can see ‘privatization’ in National’s policy document then you’ll also believe Philip Field is not guilty of corruption and perversion of the course of justice.

    I hope you enjoy your ride down to single digit party vote figures. Shouldn’t take long if you keep up this standard of lying.

  10. tc 10

    Bottom line is a badly run inefficient public service driven organisation is still more cost effective/cheaper in the long run to the user/taxpayer than any privatised/outsourced service…look at the gouging our ‘corporatised’ power companies delight in, imagine if they were all owned by the same types of overseas investors who drive telecoms behaviour.
    The pattern’s always the same…..socialise the losses, privatise the profits. Muldoon would be proud of this lot, especially the way the media heels like a doting labrador at their side.

    • gitmo 10.1

      “Bottom line is a badly run inefficient public service driven organisation is still more cost effective/cheaper in the long run to the user/taxpayer than any privatised/outsourced service”

      No this is not true, there are numerous examples supporting either perspective. Have a look at this wiki link.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privatization

      As an aside from the same link

      “The largest privatisation in history was Japan Post. It was the nation’s largest employer and one third of all Japanese government employees worked for Japan Post. Japan Post was often said to be the largest holder of personal savings in the world.”

      Ye Gods one third of all public servants employed by Japan post !!

  11. Ron 11

    Couldn’t agree more tc.
    This is what happened last time.
    Many organisations were forced to take a cheaper insurance with private firms. That insurance did not cover their workers in the way that ACC did so we a ludicrous situation in the organisation in which i worked in which the students working there were covered if the used the lift from the fourth floor but not the stairs.
    So – what happened last time was:
    injuries occurred that weren’t covered by the new private insurance and so the state ended up paying for the treatment anyway.
    injuries occured and the private insurance wasn’t as comprehemsive as ACC and workers were forced back to work too soon
    injuries and illness occured and companies’ insurance wasn’t comprehensive enough and sick workers lost their jobs when they weren’t able to return to work soon enough for the company.

    In all three scenarios the private insurer pocketd the premiums and the organsiation/company/state/or individuals bore the cost.

  12. Guys like Espiner(who can be very informative and insightful) are sometimes too close to the politics to see it clearly. Wouldn’t be the first time the Press gallery saw one thing and people outside see another…and were more accurate.

    I base my assessments on years of hearing what the pollies say…and then watching what they do. You get to know what the weasel words are, what they likely mean…and where it’s all headed.

    This national government is in the pocket of several powerful interests…and the insurance industry is near the top of the list. Mainly foreign insurance companies, too….which begs the question as to which country “National” party actually refers to.

    Too often, it isn’t New Zealand….

    Are there any journos doing “crony watch” on appointments to government bodies?

  13. logie97 13

    Afternoons on RNZ today. Appalling – you had apolitical chairman Judge making outright politically motivated statements while pushing his own barrow. And then the highly intellectual commentary of panelists Bishop and actor Peter Elliott hanging on his every word – no balance or challenge to Judge’s political stance. What a dreadful bit of radio – probably set up by Crosby-Textor. And then to round the programme off they had Farrar commenting on the most recent opinion poll.

  14. Rex Widerstrom 14

    There’s no denying ACC has structural problems. I even support some of Nick Smith’s suggestions. But competition / privatisation is a nightmare scenario — one only has to look across the ditch to see that privatised accident insurance is just a huge mess. Employers end up getting stung by huge premiums to cover work-related accidents, the health system struggles to cope with private accidents, and employees are routinely screwed by the insurance companies.

    I’ve worked with a hard right politician here in Australia… someone who is hated by the unions, who thinks the ECA is a brilliant bit of legislation, and so on. And I was dumbstruck one day when, appropos of discussing my background, he commented on how much he admired the ACC concept and how it was a major political disappointment to him that he couldn’t get the support of enough of his colleagues to get something similar passed here.

    Now when a cross between Roger Douglas, Bill Birch and Rodney Hide is talking admiringly of a socialised accident compensation regime, you start to realise NZ has something worth preserving, not ripping down and replacing with an alternative that has been repeatedly shown to be a disaster whereever else it’s tried.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      The thing is that all corporations and businesses require some sort of structural adjustment. IME, most are usually going through some sort adjustment most of the time. Picking on government corporations to point out that they aren’t perfect is disingenuous at the very least because private ones aren’t any better and are usually worse.

  15. Herodotus 15

    We gave up the right to litigate with the intro of ACC. With the reduction of the ability to recover loss (Financially re rehabilitation or compensation of earnings). Should not the ability to litigate be returned?
    I ask this a rhetorical question, as I that the presumption is NO. But this I believe should still be rasied as to one of many flaws in this policy.
    p.s. as I asked before re Private memebers bill. David Parker has one to extend the fully funded timetable from 2014 to 2118 (I Think) that failed recently. Who put a halt to this, as Nats on their own I thought did not have the soul right.

    • logie97 15.1

      Herod.. are your multiple typing errors by design or accident? Or are you actually the PM? I notice today that he talked about “bought” to the committee rather than brought. What is it about these MBA’s…?

      • Herodotus 15.1.1

        I do not have such a grand education as a MBA (Shakespear misspelt many words but I am not being defensive here). Is there a job opening for the PM, at least for a day !!
        My sentiment was that we have given away our ability to litigate in return for for a FULL ACC system, that is being erroded. As the answer to “that we do not want to revert to a ligitation system” is No, then we have to run with the ACC framework. It is not to be taken over by the IFRS type accounting/reporting system.

  16. tsmithfield 16

    felix said:

    “it’s a disingenuous and semantic distinction and as such it’s no surprise to see you defending it. Services currently provided by a publicly owned entity will be provided instead by privately owned entities, for a profit. Twist and turn like the worm you are but this is privatisation and you know it.”

    Right. So, we have a public health service, and private health providers. The public health service is still the public health service, despite the fact that private health providers exist. If you agree with this in respect to public health, then you really have no argument with respect to ACC and competition, if it comes. The presence of competition won’t make ACC any less public anymore than it does with public health.

    • felix 16.1

      Yes, we have a partially private health system.

      Now the nats want to partially privatise ACC.

      Glad you agree.

      • tsmithfield 16.1.1

        And a partially private health system has proved to be a bad thing? At least those who can afford it fund a substantial portion of their own health care, taking the load off the public system.

        How about Kiwibank. A publicly owned bank in the midst of a competitive environment. Would you subscribe to nationalising all the other privately owned banks so we can have a completely publicly owned banking system?

        • logie97 16.1.1.1

          The private sector will rarely do the complicated procedures. They will give you the consultation on your private insurance in their private clinic and then refer you to the public system and … guess who your specialist will be … yep the private consultant. Same thing happens if your procedure becomes difficult as well. The public system will pick you up.

        • felix 16.1.1.2

          Ah, so everything in the public system is directly comparably to everything else in the public system. And likewise for the private sector.

          I support private car dealers, so therefore I must support private prisons.

          Sorry, but I can’t lower myself to a discussion at this level. I just don’t have time to get you up to speed.

  17. Marty it’s a little bit unfair to be expecting msm journalists to like, use reason, facts and research and stuff to base their columns on. I mean, unlike amateur bloggers they get paid to do a job, they can’t be expected to be accurate and professional too 😉

  18. tc 18

    Gitmo: I read the link, few examples, mostly theory and rhetoric, which is the what we get from Jk and his buddies. We are talking about NACT here not sophisticated economies in countries with centuries of leadership/cultural/political experience to draw from and voters who share that.
    We all know this is about payback to insurance companies as a contra for pre EFA activities contributions….Gutting ETS looks after more mates whilst the mining/exploration permits are growing whilst they plough more of our money into Rugby.
    Can’t wait for the foreshore/seabed outcome

  19. Actually it was Hillary Clinton (Does she still use the Rodham?) who first coined the term Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vast_right-wing_conspiracy

    You might like to get even some basic facts right.

    [Dude, give us some credit, I’m aware of its origins. The fact is, while it may have originally been uttered by Clinton, it has since been appropriated by right-wing bloggers as a term of ridicule – particularly in the form of the “VRWC” acronym.]

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