The RWC resolution, and ACC changes

So the outcome of the Rugby World Cup fiasco is a reversion to sanity – one bid only, involving Maori Television, TVNZ and TV3. In order to preserve the mana of the Maori Party, Maori Television will reportedly ‘lead’ that bid. Offshore of course, the IRB can still choose to accept or reject the offer to be put on the table – in a context where it is now on the public record (thanks Pita Sharples) that this bid has the potential to be upped, by calling in more money from iwi authorities, or from government.

If you were the IRB, wouldn’t you feel at least tempted to put on pressure to see if a higher bid can be extracted ? Probably, the only thing stopping the IRB will be its related concerns about what this might do to the bunch of amateurs in New Zealand on whom they are still reliant, at the end of the day, for making the Cup a success. At least now, thanks to Prime Minister John Key’s intervention, the potential for two bids to publicly rachet up the price has been removed.

Still, Sharples and Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman owe everyone an apology ( Key included ) for creating this debacle. Sharples for trying to do a runner around TVNZ/TV3 and thinking he could get away with it – and then feigning injured innocence when reality caught up with him. And Coleman for being asleep on the job. TVNZ management, which is routinely under pressure from government over its financial performance, must be rolling its eyes about the behaviour of its Minister on this one.


Ideology Drives ACC Changes

Amongst all the various changes that will be made to ACC entitlements, Green Party MP Sue Bradford is right to highlight the change to entitlements or seasonal or casual workers – who will now receive support based on their annual earnings, and not on their income during the immediate period before they were injured.

The logic being used by government ignores the vulnerability of the workers and families involved. More and more of the workforce is being employed in casual and part time work, usually at the bottom end of the income ladder. To reduce the compensation for such people is to penalise those most in need of state support, through a period of injury and rehabilitation – especially since they are the least likely to have reserves of savings to make up the shortfall. In addition, such workers will now have now to meet more of the costs of any physio treatment that is necessary in their recovery.

Looking ahead, Bradford has also signposted the prospect of private case management pushing people off compensation and into any form whatsoever of available work : “The Government is also looking to use this manufactured crisis to bring in privatised case management to push claimants off the books as quickly as possible. This will happen through the contracting out of claims management to private companies who will then push people into work that pays far less than their pre-injury employment – or to no job at all – without providing them with adequate rehabilitation.”

All in the service of a funding ‘crisis’ that ACC Minister Nick Smith has struggled to portray as being real right now – or unsustainable, going forwards. Especially now, given that the timeframe for the transition to a fully funded scheme has also been pushed out for five years, from 2014 to 2019. Much of ACC’s current problems are temporary, and recession related. The fullest explanation of the ideologically driven scaremongering involved remains this excellent piece by Brian Fallow in the NZ Herald earlier this year. Also to be kept in mind, the related point by Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman : that ACC is not running out of cash, even despite the recession. “ACC is not losing money. This year its revenues were $4.5 billion, which is $1.5 billion more than it spent on claims.” Not for the first time, the real crisis is occurring in Nick Smith’s head.


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