Bill to improve ACC scheme passed

  • Hon Iain Lees-Galloway

The Government is able to improve the wellbeing of older working New Zealanders and those working overseas with the passing of the Accident Compensation Amendment Bill says the Minister for ACC Iain Lees-Galloway.

“The legislation passed last night helps ensure we improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders by addressing a number of gaps and technical issues in the ACC scheme to help keep the system fair, transparent and accessible for all claimants,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

“ACC is a world-leading scheme that has provided tremendous support to generations of New Zealanders. This change to the Act closes the gap in coverage for families of employees who are posted overseas in the course of their employment by extending ACC cover to the spouses or partners and dependents of New Zealand employees posted offshore.

“This is an important change to make as we do not want to discourage people from representing New Zealand’s interests offshore if they feel that they cannot keep their families together without risk.

“The Bill also removes the disadvantage for ACC claimants injured near to, or after retirement age. They will no longer have to choose between weekly compensation and New Zealand Superannuation or the Veterans’ Pension after receiving a year of both. They will now be able to receive up to 24 months of weekly compensation and New Zealand Superannuation at the same time.

“The changing nature of work means that people are staying longer in the workforce. Many of those over 65 continue to receive earnings from work alongside superannuation. This change ensures that the income they receive after suffering an injury will be a closer reflection of their financial situation had they not been injured.

“We are also disestablishing the historic Accident Compensation Appeal Authority given the low number of appeals to this body.

“Following the disestablishment of the Authority, all new appeals under the repealed 1972 and 1982 Acts will be heard by the District Court,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

Other amendments proposed under the Bill:

  • clarify the current transitional provisions to ensure that all claimants who are close to, or above, superannuation qualification age receive up to 24 months of weekly compensation
  • allow surviving spouses and dependents to receive up to five years of weekly compensation, regardless of age
  • move from an annual review to a biennial review of the Accident Compensation (Liability to Pay or Contribute to the Cost of Treatment) Regulations 2003
  • automatically update the maximum and minimum liable earnings to the minimum wage and the Labour Cost Index respectively to improve the workability of biennial levy rounds.

“These changes will help create a fairer social insurance scheme for New Zealanders,” Iain Lees-Galloway says.