New ACC board chair gets mixed reception

By Kate Shuttleworth

Paula Rebstock. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Paula Rebstock. Photo / Paul Estcourt

ACC Minister Judith Collins has been accused of missing an opportunity to appoint board members who would set a new direction for the corporation.

Ms Collins today confirmed Paula Rebstock as the new chairwoman of the corporation's board. She had been in the role in an acting capacity since John Judge resigned during fallout from the Bronwyn Pullar privacy scandal.

Ms Rebstock is also chairwoman of the board of Work and Income.

The Green Party's ACC spokesman Kevin Hague said Ms Rebstock's dual roles would mean she had to be aware it was unacceptable for people who came off ACC to end up on benefits.

And he said she had a responsibility to "turn the ACC ship around."

However, Ms Collins said Ms Rebstock was "extremely effective". She had been a proven leader on the board during a challenging time and had the right skills and experience for the organisation.

ACC has been in upheaval since the details of 6700 clients were emailed to disgruntled claimant Bronwyn Pullar.

As the privacy breach unfolded, Nick Smith resigned as ACC Minister alongside Mr Judge, chief executive Ralph Stewart and board members John McCliskie and Murray Hilder.

Ms Collins filled some of the gaps with the appointment of Ms Rebstock, Trevor Janes as deputy chairman and Professor Des Gorman and Kristy McDonald QC as board members. A fourth new board member would be announced before the end of the year.

Ms Collins said the new appointments underlined the Government's commitment to a "genuine culture change" and would lead to a "more balanced and comprehensive approach to the governance and operation of ACC".

But Hazel Armstrong, spokeswoman for claimants advocacy group ACC Futures Coalition, said the appointments were a missed opportunity.

"All those appointed are no doubt experienced and capable people but they do not bring the perspective and knowledge that consumer groups and unions can bring to the table.

"There is a small shift away from a purely business and financial background among board members but there is no consumer or worker voice," said Mrs Armstrong.

Mr Janes is chairman of the Public Trust and self-employed as a financial advisor and consultant in the public and private sector.

Professor Des Gorman is head of the Auckland School of Medicine and Associate Dean at the University of Auckland's Faculty of Medical Health Sciences, and has doctorates in medicine and philosophy.

Kristy McDonald QC has practised in criminal, public and constitutional, and administrative law.

She served as chairwoman of the Mental Health Review Tribunal for 10 years, and has acted as legal assessor to the Medical Council, Dentists' Disciplinary Tribunal, Psychologists' Board and Nursing Council.

Ms Rebstock is also deputy chairwoman of the Railways Corporation and chairwoman of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman Commission.

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff, who commissioned a report into the ACC privacy breaches, and former Australian Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton put the problems down to "human error" exacerbated by "systemic weaknesses".

They said "a culture change starting at the top" was required to prevent further privacy breaches.

- APNZ

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