ACC levies to balance the books? | The Jackal

18 Jan 2013

ACC levies to balance the books?

Today, the Dominion Post reported:

A mother who suffered more than a decade of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her husband has been denied ACC cover because of a technicality.

The Christchurch woman, who cannot be named, married in 1994 and her husband soon began to display abusive behaviour. That escalated into continual sexual, psychological and physical abuse until she left him 12 years later.

The couple's three children were also subjected to sexual abuse and in 2009 the man was sentenced to five years in jail for offences against the family.

Speaking to The Dominion Post, the woman said the details at the trial of her former husband's abuse were so horrific that she suffered a breakdown soon after and was diagnosed with severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

How horrible! Not only has this lady and her children been put through years of horrendous abuse, the state is now denying her and her children the help they need. Surely this is taking the right wings blame the victim mentality too far?

One rule stated that the claimant had to be an earner at the date of injury and incapacity.

But a second rule meant that the date of the injury, in the case of mental injury caused by certain criminal acts, is the date on which the claimant received treatment for that injury.

The woman's application for weekly compensation could only prove that she worked until March 13, 2007, while her first date for counselling for symptoms of mental illness was on April 30, 2007.

That's entirely unfair! The injury to the ladies mental health obviously occurred while she was in the abusive relationship. The fact that it took her a month and a half to seek assistance after stopping work is neither here nor there, as it's the actual time of the injury that should be considered.

ACC is effectively saying that somebody doesn't have a mental health injury until they're diagnosed with one, with ACC all too willing to deny assistance because the exact date of the injury is difficult to prove. However any competent judge should see right through such bullshit, and rule accordingly with consideration to the circumstances involved.

This is obviously an incorrect way for ACC to operate and although their rules are being followed, the system should be flexible enough to ensure abuse victims are supported. Without proper systems that ensure abuse victims get the assistance they require, ACC is creating more people at the bottom of the cliff.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Policy advice from the ministry released this week shows it recommended cutting the workers' and earners' levies by 17 per cent for the 2013-2014 year.

Labour says the Government's decision to disregard that advice and ACC's own recommendation to cut levies by 12 per cent was driven by its political goal of returning to surplus by 2014-2015.

So not only are struggling workers and businesses paying more than they should, ACC is not properly allocating that money to the people who need it the most. It's an entirely unacceptable situation whereby the governments drive to pay for the tax cuts for the rich is adversely impacting on peoples lives.

In other words Key's government is destroying people's lives through their defunct neoliberal agenda.

Late last year ACC Minister Judith Collins announced the Government would not cut ACC levies for workers and businesses as recommended by the ACC board. ACC's 12 per cent cuts would have reduced levy income by about $330 million a year thereby undermining the Government's goal of returning to surplus.

But Ms Collins said it was decided not to cut levies because the Government was mindful of economic uncertainty and it wanted to have confidence that levy reductions were stable and sustainable.

Surely ACC's Board and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment would have considered the long-term sustainability of cutting levies before they made the recommendations? This is yet another case of the government ignoring advice it doesn't like, and having no valid argument for doing so... What a bunch of idiots!