POLL: NBR readers verdict on ACC funding change
NBR ONLINE readers are split about whether the Accident Compensation scheme should stay fully funded or be moved to a pay-as-you-go operation.
A poll run online last week shows a small majority favour staying with the fully funded model, but the gap is not large.
Just over half – 52% – of those who took part favour the status quo: 48% would prefer reverting to the pay as you go (PAYG) approach.
The issue the headlines last week after Accident Compensation minister Judith Collins refused to rule out moving away form the fully funded model, which has been used for the scheme since the 1998 legislative changes.
Asked by NBR ONLINE whether the government was considering such a move, Miss Collins, through a press secretary, would only say “no decisions have been made” and “the minister is not in a position to answer your questions at this stage”.
That was a shift in stance. Previously, whenever asked, ministers had always reiterated their commitment to fully funding the scheme by the target date – now 2019.
Moving back to PAYG would solve a number of the government’s problems.
It would enable it to use at least some of ACC’s accumulated reserves – now nearing $20 billion – to either repay debt and/or kick start the now empty Earthquake Commission natural disaster fund.
It would also allow a cut in ACC levies.
Miss Collins’ uncharacteristic equivocation continued with other media until Wednesday afternoon, when she firmly ruled out any move away from fully funding the scheme, although her comments gave the government room for some alteration in definition about just what is full funding.
Cabinet committees met on Wednesday morning and it appears some decisions were made then.
The government has been reviewing the future direction of the ACC scheme and it is understood options for the government went to the minister earlier in the month.