Collins' gold star ACC medals set 'dangerous precedent'

ACC minister Judith Collins is planning to hand out a monthly "minister's excellence award" to staff, but the idea has been rubbished by Labour.

Labour has hit out at embattled ACC minister Judith Collins’ plans to hand out staff awards, saying it will set a dangerous precedent for other ministers.

ACC spokesman Andrew Little told told state services commissioner Ian Rennie of his concern over Miss Collins’ intention to introduce "gold star" awards for staff who do well.

Miss Collins wants to give a monthly award based on "good news" reports she receives from ACC management and letters she receives from claimants.

Mr Little has told Mr Rennie he is worried about the "erosion of the important distinction between the minister’s role in giving guidance and direction to the board of the corporation, and the corporation’s role in acting as the employer of its staff".

He has asked Mr Rennie to check on the scheme and report back as to whether he believes it meets the requirements of employee management roles in the state sector.

Mr Little does not expect this will take long to complete.

“All it will take is for Mr Rennie to ring up the minister’s office or speak with ACC senior management.”

Mr Little is unsure about Miss Collins’ motives for the award, but warns she should not be over-reaching her lines of responsibility.

“What we don’t want is employees working out what is going to please the minister rather than doing what they’re supposed to, which is to deal with claims and provide treatment for those claimants,” he told NBR ONLINE.

He says Miss Collins’s point of contact should be with the CEO and board members, and they should be the ones to create such an award.

Mr Little is fearful this could set a precedent with other ministers keen to interfere in the day-to-day running of their departments.

The Labour list MP says he is still getting mixed reports on the performance of the corporation after the departures of CEO Ralph Stewart and Miss Collins' dumping of board chairman John Judge and other board members.

“The frontline staff are finding it much tougher – they feel like the ‘meat in the sandwich.’ Former ACC minister Nick Smith was heading in one direction, Judith Collins is heading in another, and now we’ve had all these changes.”

He believes the recent upheaval at ACC is even more reason Miss Collins should leave senior management to run their own corporation.

Meanwhile Miss Collins has called on ACC managers to start firing staff who breach the corporation’s new "zero-tolerance" policy on privacy breaches.

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