Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

ACC minister put pressure on bosses to make complaint - Labour

Judith Collins. Photo / NZPA
Judith Collins. Photo / NZPA

ACC bosses laid a police complaint alleging blackmail by claimant Bronwyn Pullar and Michelle Boag after being pressured by their minister Judith Collins, Labour MP Andrew Little says.

In a general debate at Parliament this afternoon Mr Little claimed that during a meeting between ACC Ralph Stewart, chairman John Judge and Ms Collins in Auckland the day after a massive privacy breach at ACC was revealed, Ms Collins told the two men to "go after Michelle Boag".

"She urged and pressured and pressed the chief executive and chairman of the board to make a complaint to the police and that's what they did".

ACC laid a complaint against Ms Pullar in March a week after she went to the media about the corporation's error in mistakenly emailing her information about thousands of other claimants seven months earlier.

ACC alleged that during a meeting with two ACC managers in December last year, Ms Pullar and her support person, former National Party president Ms Boag threatened to go to the media with the information unless Ms Pullar was granted a two year guaranteed benefit.

However two weeks ago, police said no offence was "disclosed" and a few days later ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart and his chairman John Judge last week resigned.

"She told them to do it and then when the police came back and said there's nothing here... she hung them out to dry", Mr Little said this afternoon under the protection of parliamentary privilege.

Ms Collins has consistently said she had nothing to do with ACC's decision to make the complaint against Ms Pullar.

Ms Collins is currently progressing defamation proceedings against Mr Little and his colleague Trevor Mallard after the pair repeated allegations made in Parliament in a subsequent interview on Radio NZ which linked Ms Collins to the leak of a revealing email about the December meeting.

No return to 'pay as you go'

Ms Collins has ruled out a return to "pay as you go" funding for the corporation, a move opposition parties were backing as a means to make the scheme more affordable.

National abandoned pay as you go and instituted "full funding" for the accident insurance scheme in 1998 when it opened the scheme up to private competition. When Labour took office in the following year it agreed to retain full funding.

Full funding or "pre-funding" means the insurer aims to build up big reserves of cash assets sufficient to make payments to all the claimants on its books for the likely duration of their claim.

Pay as you go means annual claims are largely matched by annual levies and other income and as such it requires lower levies and the corporation to hold smaller reserves.

Labour's current position is that it would retain full funding if it returned to Government, but ACC spokesman Andrew Little recently said his party was reviewing its position and called for a public debate about funding options.

Mr Little noted Ms Collins had not dismissed the possibility of a return to pay as you go in recent comments but this afternoon she did just that.

"Pay as you go is not for us," she said.

"We're not going to burden the next generations with the accidents of this generation and I'm surprised that the Greens and Labour who support the Cullen fund on the same basis that it's pre-funding superannuation would suddenly decide that they want to burden our future generations with the cost of our injuries.

"I think it's somewhat unrealistic and we're actually doing very well on the funding what we're looking at is just some of the levels of pre-funding but in terms of pre-funding it's not for us."

- NZ Herald

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