NZ POLITICS DAILY: Has ACC become sociopathic?

Crushed under the heel of Nanny State

The latest revelations about financial incentives for ACC staff who push accident victims off the books could be perceived as being part of a sociopathic – or at least bureaupathic – culture within the government agency. Green MP Kevin Hague has revealed that case managers are paid a bonus for removing long term claimants and says ‘This sort of scheme is symptomatic of a sick culture within ACC’ – see Adam Bennett’s ACC bonus pay for claimant cull

ACC argues that getting clients back to work is the focus, but the obvious next question is: how many of those ‘culled’ haven’t actually increased their work hours but have just been pushed on to a benefit or lost income? For the strongest critique of the ACC policy, read Gordon Campbell’s Scoop article On the incentive payments at ACC. Gordon Campbell argues the policy is ‘not just corrupt, it’s insulting’.

The ‘sociopathic’ label has been applied by Labour’s ACC spokesperson Andrew Little to the Minister of ACC, Judith Collins: ‘Her conduct is the conduct of a sociopath, Ms Tolley. Maurice Williamson understands that, because he has worked with too many of them for too long. He knows sociopathic conduct when he sees it’ – see Andrea Vance’s Little always wrong on ACC claims – Collins.
 
Rightwing blogger David Farrar says ‘David Shearer is a decent man. I am sure he does not condone his spokespersons calling Ministers of the Crown sociopaths’ (The hatred and bile from Labour), and Cameron Slater who delves into definitions of ‘sociopathic’, concludes that ‘Based on the evidence it appears that Andrew Little was in fact talking about Trevor Mallard’ (So who is the sociopath? ). The response from Collins herself about Little’s allegations that she ordered ACC to go after Michelle Boag and Bronwyn Pullar have been more restrained: ‘He's just wrong and wrong and wrong. I'm just going to say this about Mr Little. He's just wrong. And again. He's always wrong’. According to Andrea Vance, ‘She also brushed off his claims that she is "a sociopath". "I think he is under stress at the moment. And I forgive him”.’
 
There are some more important policy debates going on about ACC at the moment. Assoc Prof Grant Duncan of Massey University is an expert on ACC, and he blogs about why Judith Collins is wrong to reject ‘shifting ACC's funding model back from full-funding to pay-as-you-go’ – see: Crusher Collins' voodoo economics. Similarly, blogger Robert Winter says that the latest revelations about ACC indicate that there has been a Perversion of the Woodhouse Principles. For more on the ACC funding debates see Vernon Small’s Funding issue brews in ACC's cauldron.
 
Other important or interesting political items today include:
 
Could the Labour Party end up ‘attacking the poor and vulnerable’ in order to get back in Government? Chris Trotter thinks so, and explains why in his column, Baby-boomers are becoming scapegoats. He says that Labour might give up on poor people because they don’t vote, and that it looks increasingly likely to attempt to mobilise young voters instead with scaremongering about ‘intergenerational theft’.
 
Despite a concerted effort, Labour and the other opposition parties have failed to delay the asset sales legislation by more than one parliamentary day, according to Adam Bennett in his article Labour's bid to delay asset sales bill fails. Meanwhile David Farrar makes some good points about the electoral politics of the asset sales in his Herald column The mixed ownership debate. He doubts that National will lose the next election due to the asset sales, especially because, although ‘opponents of the Government detest asset sales, so called swinging voters are not so passionate’. Farrar also replies to yesterday’s rightwing critique of the privatization process by Cathy Odgers in his blogpost, Fisking Cactus
 
The ongoing ideological battles in the education sector are expected to ‘reach fever pitch later this year’ according to Auckland University’s Assoc Prof Peter O'Connor from the School of Critical Studies in Education. His Dominion Post opinion piece, Education wars will intensify with charter schools is a strongly argued critique of the ‘Government attack on public education’. For a very different version, see today’s editorial from the same newspaper (Stop shouting and start talking). The editorial not only argues for the education unions to make compromises, but will also upset some with its explanation for why high-decile schools might be expected to produce better educational achievements: ‘Middle-class families know the value of education and are prepared to make considerable sacrifices to foster it’.
 
The Government and its ministers Judith Collins and Anne Tolley have gained a rare publicity win with yesterday’s car crushing – see: Isaac Davison’s Might of law falls on boy racer's wheels. But according to University of Canterbury criminologist Professor Greg Newbold, the crushing laws are ‘vindictive, malicious, petty and an undignified way of dealing with the problem’. He also says that such ‘ministerial grandstanding’ only ‘discredits the Government and it brings the legal system into disrepute and engenders disrespect for the law’ – see: Car crushing 'discredits law' – expert
 
Labour and the Greens are fighting again. Deputy Leader Grant Robertson has publicly lashed out at Green MP Kennedy Graham’s criticism of him not attending an environmental summit – see Graham’s blogpost, Sad Labour’s not here? Don’t ask, don’t tell, and Robertson’s A response to Kennedy Graham. David Farrar also points out that although Robertson was probably correct not to go the summit, Labour – with a parliamentary budget of $5.1 million – certainly could have afforded to send someone if it was deemed a priority – see: Robertson v Graham
 
There’s been some more positive economic news this week for the Government, but the Minister of Finance is telling us to keep our expectations low, saying that such growth ‘remains lumpy and grumpy, occasionally you get a good lump’ – see Vernon Small’s English warns of 'grumpy' growth.
 
Should the taxpayer pay for the upcoming royal tour of New Zealand? For many people, the answer possibly depends on how much it will cost, but Ministerial Services is apparently refusing to provide an estimate, and No Right Turn says that this is wrong – see: Disturbing
 
Politicians forever want to ‘correct’ the Wikipedia entries about themselves, which is apparently forbidden. And for doing so, Scott Yorke points out that National MP Tau Henare is Blocked From Wikipedia. But the MP has responded to say it’s ‘a beat up by the blogger’ – see Dan Satherley’s Tau Henare rubbishes Wikipedia ban
 
Bryce Edwards

ACC
Adam Bennett (Herald): ACC bonus pay for claimant cull
No Right Turn: Bad incentives
Robert Winter (Idle Thoughts): ACC: The Perversion of the Woodhouse Principles
Grant Duncan (Policy Matters): Crusher Collins' voodoo economics
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The hatred and bile from Labour
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): So who is the sociopath?
 
Asset sales
No Right Turn: Bribing their cronies
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Fisking Cactus
David Farrar (Herald): The mixed ownership debate
 
Education
Dom Post: Editorial: Stop shouting and start talking
Joseph Aldridge (Northern Advocate): Principals dispute 'white flight'
 
Car crushing
Whena Owen (TV3); The flattening of the Nissan
Tahu Potiki (Press): In my day we had man-sized cars
Warwick Rasmussen (Manawatu Standard): Car crushing just a gimmick
Robert Winter (Idle Thoughts): Car crushing the pinnacle of political triumph?
 
Christchurch rebuild
 
Greens vs Labour
Grant Robertson (Red Alert): A response to Kennedy Graham
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Robertson v Graham
 
Other
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): Love, People, Love!
Chris Trotter (Dom Post): Baby-boomers are becoming scapegoats
No Right Turn: Disturbing
Victoria Robinson (Stuff): Trial 'to shut down Tuhoe aspirations'
Vernon Small (Stuff): English warns of 'grumpy' growth
Claire Trevett (Herald): Hard line in store for cyberbullies
Isaac Davison (Herald): Minister accused of booze deal
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): Tau Henare Blocked From Wikipedia
Dan Satherley (TV3): Tau Henare rubbishes Wikipedia ban
Steve Braunias (Pead PR): Harrah for the grand old duck
Steve Braunias (Pead PR): Something for the fridge
John Drinnan (Herald): News Ltd ups pay-TV ante
Matthew Theunissen and Teuila Fuatai (Herald): Call for limits on Kiwis crossing Ditch
Catherine Harris (Stuff): Firms fear loss of work
Andrea Vance (Stuff): Police face budget shortfall
Stuff: Today in politics: Friday, June 22
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Ignoring the debate over the merits of crushing as a response to hoons, once again we see the PR machine that is Wellington stuff up big time. More kiwis than most know a little about cars and what we saw on TV etc was but the bodyshell of a stripped car. Gone was the engine, gearbox, suspension wheels and I presume much more. Any youtube video will show you these crushers dealing with cars in their entirety and also crushed end on creating a far more impressive block of mangled stuff than a pancake of of nothing with some high heeled politician teeterin on.

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The problem with ACC is that Labour turned it into a vast, underfunded welfare machine, to hide the numbers who would otherwise have been on unemployment benefits, or less generous sickness benefits, or no justifiable benefits at all. Worse, they then added lump sum benefits, such as for those claiming sexual abuse, which became a whole new liability, never envisioned when ACC was first introduced. The recent push back was inevitable unless you are one of those that believe you are entitled to ongoing never ending state funded support. Most of those who argue they gave up their right to sue in return for ACC would never get their cases past a court. They have abused an ACC that was set up with good intent.

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Exactly. If its to continue it has to be turned back to its origins.

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