The body count is mounting rapidly at ACC as at least two Directors and the CEO Ralph Stewart (just 6 months into the job) join the casualty list today - see: TVNZ's ACC chief Ralph Stewart quits. Judith Collins has finally got around to doing some actual crushing and John Armstrong even thinks she is enjoying herself now the heads have started rolling: "Few Cabinet ministers like to play to their public image to quite the extent Collins does. She positively relishes any opportunity to display her reputation as one tough cookie. She had earlier walked into the chamber wearing her trademark smile of the cat that got the cream. She was indeed licking her paws" - see: Minister smug over Judge's sudden exit. Armstrong points out that Judge's resignation yesterday took the sting out of Opposition attacks in parliament - which is exactly what it was designed to do.
While Collins may be enjoying cleaning up the mess, it is still a mess. Fran O'Sullivan praises John Judge's performance at ACC, saying he was let down by Nick Smith, ACC Directors and managers in their handling of the Pullar case and calling (in vain it appears) for Ralph Stewart to keep his job - see: An accident just waiting to happen. She quotes leaked emails from Michelle Boag to Collins as evidence that there was an attempt to link the return of the mistakenly sent client files to a favourable settlement for Pullar from ACC.
Will the changes at the top signal real 'culture change' that the ACC minister has called for? Gordon Campbell has his doubts, particularly on the issue Bronwyn Pullar has highlighted - that "people with long term disabilities are being culled systematically and unfairly denied the long term disability payments that are their due" - see: On the ongoing debacle at ACC.
Just yesterday the agreed line was the issues would be dealt with after the two ongoing enquiries were completed. Clearly National has decided it simply must clear ACC off the political table. As any parent knows, however, as soon as you clean up one mess another one takes its place. David Fisher noted yesterday in Convention centre shrouded in silence that the government has gone very quiet on the pokies for convention centre deal. It won't stay that way as the Auditor General's Office has today agreed to a Green Party request to investigate how SkyCity's Convention Centre proposal got the front running - see: Probe into Govt convention centre deal. Both the Greens and Labour are calling for all negotiations to cease until the inquiry is finished. If the government persists with the deal (and it seems it will - see: Sky City talks continue it will have to stand up to detailed scrutiny on all levels.
The clamour for John Key to go back on his 2008 promise not to raise the superannuation age is continuing - see: Duncan Garner's Calls for superannuation age rise and today's Herald editorial Lifting super eligibility age urgent issue. Both the Prime Minister and his Finance Minister are resisting - see: Audrey Young's English leaves pension age for a 'future government'. Labour and the Greens are promising not to take political advantage over a National u-turn on the policy (but not Winston Peters) - see: Andrea Vance's Olive-branch offer over super debate. Such assurances cannot be counted on says David Farrar in his blogpost Superannuation. Farrar goes on to make some suggestions on how the issue can be de-politicised, including guaranteeing the current scheme for baby boomers and a Royal Commission and referendum to set in place a new, sustainable scheme for those born after 1960. Is raising the age the cure-all for supers future? With such an important and complex issue it is strange that one solution is being pushed when, in reality, the answer will lie in a mix of solutions that could also include means testing, flexible retirement ages, tax increases, compulsory savings and higher employer contributions to name a few. Stealing your grandkids jobs might not be the only answer argues the Timaru Herald in Age the only measure?
And it seems most kiwis share John Key's reluctance to face up to the difference between our retirement expectations and reality. Our savings simply don't match what we think we will need later - see: Survey reveals huge retirement shortfall. These figures are often presented as proof of denial but actually may reflect the reality for many that there is simply not enough left each week to save. In any case pensioners can't eat money: no matter how large or small our individual or collective retirement nest egg is we will ultimately be reliant on the working generations behind us - something the baby-boomer generation needs to be mindful of.
Other important or interesting political items today include:
* Despite the legal victory for carers, Labour is skeptical about the payment scheme that will actually result - see: Peter Wilson's Ryall casts doubt on carer payment plan.
* National has lost is mojo says Simon Cunliffe in National finding itself out of step with voters, and both Michael Laws (National losing its head over silly buggers) and Cameron Slater (What the DimPost tracking poll means) seem to agree.
* Te Ururoa Flavell's bill to reign in pokie trusts needs some amendments but the industry has proven itself incapable of cleaning up their own act says today's Dominion Post editorial - see: Pokie rorts must be stopped.
* Health care costs seem to be the cause of the resignation of a high profile Northland GP - see: Patients upset at anti-poverty doctor's resignation.
* Valerie Grant questions whether punishment and ostracism are the best approaches to take with smokers: - see: Smoking ousted in society.
* Chris Baker puts the case for the dirty black stuff in our economy - see: Coal helps fire economy.
* And Cameron Slater's support is not the ideal CV material for aspiring Labour politicians - see: Josie Pagani on Trotter's world.