Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

ACC leads good economic news at National party convention

Ms Collins' gave party members the "very good news". Photo / Mark Mitchell
Ms Collins' gave party members the "very good news". Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Accident Compensation Corporation's Earners and Work Accounts are now fully funded ACC Minister Judith Collins has told National Party members at their Northern Regional Conference today.

Ms Collins gave party members the "very good news" shortly after Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman gave an opening speech exhorting them to explain to the public how last week's Budget demonstrated National's competence in managing the economy.

Responding to a question about the $1.3 billion in ACC levy cuts over two years which were the surprise announcement in the Budget Ms Collins said the Earners and Workers accounts were now "fully subscribed" or fully funded.

That means they now have sufficient cash to meet the future costs of all current claims on their books.

That has been a long term goal since the previous National Government abandoned the "pay as you go" model in 1999.

"We're no longer a corporation that could go bust, we're no longer a corporation in difficulties. We are now a corporation that's working well."

That work included reducing the number of long term ACC claimants to 14,000 to less than 11,000.

"All these people are back to independence."

"We're now a good news portfolio."

Ms Collins later told the Herald the financial position of the corporation, which now has $23 billion in assets, gave the Government the confidence to give the levy cuts.
The current strength of the corporation's books is also a significant factor aiding the Government's target of returning to surplus by 2014-15.

Asked whether the good news about ACC strengthened the case for larger and sooner cuts to levies in line with advice last year from both ACC itself and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Ms Collins said: ``We have to look at the wide picture as well".

"We've made no secret that as a Government we want to get back into surplus by 2014-15 and it would make no sense to lower one side and then have to raise something else."

Dr Coleman earlier gave a Budget briefing to the several hundred party faithful gathered at Mt Wellington's Waipuna Hotel, telling them; ``Please go out there and sell this Budget, sell the economic story".

"We've got a great story to tell. The contrast between us and our opposition next year is going to be really how we win that third term."

Party members sat down to lunch this afternoon with a view of a drizzle moistened trio of protestors outside including activist Penny Bright, waving banners including a mock Tui billboard: "John Key's not looking after his own, and his corporate mates' interests - he's looking after the public. Yeah right."

Mr Key will address the conference tomorrow afternoon.

- NZ Herald

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