SIXTH PRINCIPLE FOR ACC

  • Murray McCully
Accident Insurance

ACC policy has been declared a "line in the sand election issue" by Accident Insurance Minister Murray McCully, releasing the National Party's ACC policy today.

"Carrots not sticks are what will reduce the number of New Zealanders killed or injured in accidents," Mr McCully said.

"National will continue to use incentives rather than armies of regulation toting bureacrats to improve health and safety in this country in the future.

"The choices simply could not be more stark.

"We are adding a sixth principle to the five developed 25 years ago by Sir Owen Woodhouse, the architect of the ACC scheme - encouraging individual responsibility.

The five principles developed by Sir Owen Woodhouse were community responsibility, comprehensive entitlement, complete rehabilitation, real compensation and administrative efficiency.

"There's something missing in those five original principles;" Mr McCully said, "the idea that people can make some difference to what happens to them by the choices they make as individuals.

"We've seen it with the incentives we put in place with the opening of workplace accident insurance to competition; employers have an incentive through lower premiums to have safe workplaces and focus on rehabilitation and they are paying attention to those areas. They are taking individual responsibility because their premiums encourage them to do so.

"National is committed to continuing to create strong incentives to focus on safety and rehabilitation of injured New Zealanders. We will explore ways in our next term of encouraging individual responsibility for safety and rehabilitation.

"We will look carefully at ways of rewarding those people who drive safely and have a clear accident record and encouraging those who do not to focus on driving safely.

"One-size-fits-all premiums to cover motor vehicle related accidents do not provide incentives to make people think seriously about the way they drive, or to take defensive driving courses, for example.

"Labour's obdurate refusal to listen to reason and logic has massively damaged their credibility with New Zealanders who know from their own experience that the ACC changes are working.

"Labour's attitude to ACC speaks volumes about the level of control which the 40% of their caucus who are unionists , and their need to protect their so-called non-aggression pact with the Alliance have over their policy," he said.

"National is committed to choice for New Zealanders. Individuals can and do make a difference to accident rates. We want to make sure that there are incentives in place to take a measure of responsibility for keeping safe," Mr McCully said.

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Attached: Policy summary

ACCIDENT INSURANCE
The Sixth Principle

"There's something missing in the principles that the ACC scheme was based on - the idea that people can make some difference to what happens to them by the choices they make as individuals."
Murray McCully, Minister for Accident Insurance

National supports the principles that the architect of the ACC scheme, Sir Owen Woodhouse, developed 25 years ago, which underpin New Zealand's unique, 24 hour, no fault accident insurance scheme.

However, National believes that a sixth principle should be added that reflects this party's commitment to choice for New Zealanders.

The five Woodhouse principles are:

* Community responsibility
* Comprehensive entitlement
* Complete rehabilitation
* Real compensation
* Administrative efficiency

To these should be added:

Encouraging individual responsibility.

POLICY COMMITMENTS

We make two firm policy commitments based on these principles:

1. The National Party is totally committed to the provision of choice for employers and self-employed New Zealanders in relation to accident insurance. We, therefore, remain totally supportive of the principles of the Accident Insurance Act 1998;

2. The National Party, having moved the ACC Motor Vehicle Account to full funding, will move to introduce elements of risk rating, and will investigate providing motorists with a choice of accident insurer.

The National Party remains committed to a 24 hour, no fault, compulsory, comprehensive accident insurance scheme - and to creating strong incentives to focus on safety and rehabilitation of injured New Zealanders.

It worked with workplace accident insurance

It is clear that introducing competition to delivery of workplace accident insurance is providing huge benefits for employers in terms of premiums and for employees in terms of attention by their employers to workplace safety.

Up until the introduction of competition to the delivery of workplace accident insurance, there were weak incentives for employers to focus on health, safety and rehabilitation of their employees.

Allowing registered insurers to compete for this business has meant not just savings for employers and self-employed which will feed into jobs and new opportunities, but a new focus on workplace health and safety.

Now employers are taking more responsibility for health and safety in their workplaces.

The gains that this country is making and will continue to make in the future in terms of health and safety should not be confined to the workplace alone.

It could work in other areas

We all know that accidents happen. And that is why the Woodhouse principle of community responsibility is so important. As Sir Owen Woodhouse said in his report in 1967, "since we all persist in following community activities, which year by year exact a predictable and inevitable price in bodily injury, so should we all share in sustaining those who become the random but statistically necessary victims."

But there is a balance that needs to be reached between community and individual responsibility that recognises that while random events can create victims, there can be ways of reducing risks and individuals can make a difference.

With the way the system has worked in the past, there has been little incentive to try.

People are beginning to question this. Older people, for example, who have low car accident rates question why their premiums are the same as young men who have a very high accident rate.

If we put in place a system that allows rewards for people who take care and make choices that keep them safe, and make those who take risks think seriously about their behaviour, then the health and safety gains won in the workplace could be further increased.

One-size-fits-all premiums to cover motor vehicle related accidents, for example, do not recognise those drivers who take care or those who do a defensive driving or similar driving skills course, nor do they take proper account of the record of poor drivers.

National will investigate opening the Motor Vehicle Account to competition in its next term and study carefully the best way of creating incentives for people to take care.