Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Collins 'not satisfied' with ACC

ACC Minister Judith Collins. Photo / APN
ACC Minister Judith Collins. Photo / APN

ACC minister Judith Collins has told an employers group that ACC needs to rebuild public trust and had fallen short in protecting privacy after a realm of controversies and complaints about it.

Ms Collins spoke to the Northern Employers and Manufacturers' Association this morning and referred to the recent controversy around it, saying privacy and information security was the biggest issue facing ACC at the moment.

Her comments follow revelations ACC inadvertently emailed a database of its claimants to Bronwyn Pullar, a National Party supporter who has been in a stoush with ACC over her entitlement following a head injury in 2002.

Ms Collins said it was essential that New Zealanders could trust ACC.

"Understandably these matters have undermined people's confidence in ACC and the service it provides. At this stage I am not yet satisfied ACC's privacy provisions and protocols are appropriate or are being complied with to the level they should be."

MS Collins also implied ACC had gone too far in deciding cases were entitled to compensation, saying while it should not be seen as a "soft touch" it should follow a fair process.

"We would like to see a renewed focus in ACC towards a rebalance of the broader responsibilities it has to all New Zealanders. It must ensure entitlements are delivered transparently and fairly to those who need them."

She said she expected ACC to implement any recommendations the Privacy Commissioner might make after an investigation, but there were also many processes that could be strengthened immediately.

Ms Collins is threatening to sue Labour MPs Andrew Little, Trevor Mallard and Radio NZ for defamation over comments they made relating to a leak of an email, and has said she will resign if that leak came from her or her office. She has given them until today to apologise and retract their comments. Both have said they do not intend to apologise.

In her speech, Ms Collins gave few hints about whether she would back away from plans to introduce competition into the work account, which covers employers, as National had campaigned on.

She told the EMA that there would be changes which would give employers more choices, but they were still being worked on.

"Improvements to the scheme will offer employers choice only where it makes good sense to."

In February, Ms Collins said speculation she would ditch the proposal which National had campaigned on in 2011 were 'extremely speculative" but she did believe there were better options than those outlined by Dr Smith.

Sources had previously told the Herald there were concerns that introducing competition at this point would punish small and medium businesses in levy increases and open ACC to too much risk as private companies cherry picked low-risk employers as their clients.

Ms Collins did give a clear indication that more employers would soon be able to sign up to the Accredited Employer Scheme which is currently restricted to large companies. That scheme allows those companies to manage their own workplace accident cover, including managing injuries and administering compensation payments. She said ACC were evaluating that scheme's success and looking to offer it more widely.

- NZ Herald

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