Who paid for this policy?

I wonder who paid for this policy which is curiously hidden on the National Party’s website with no link from the front page:

The National Party is committed to the principles of competition and choice as the appropriate means of ensuring efficiency of ACC provision…

Among the allegations of NZ First and United Future being involved in “policy for money” deals, I think it is important not to overlook the National Party.

According to Nicky Hager in The Hollow Men (p 246):

… a senior National Party figure provided details of various National Party funders and stated that the largest single election donation, believed to be well over $1million, had come from the Insurance Council and was given to National because the party was known to be intending, if elected, to privatise the Accident Compensation Commission (sic).

National’s policy, according to Hager, was announced after a series of meetings between senior National politicians and Steven Cosgrove and Ross Chapman of QBE Insurance and Insurance Council CEO Chris Ryan. I wonder what they were discussing, and whether the money followed the policy or the policy followed the money.

Of course the donation, if it did occur, remains hidden behind National’s shadowy Trusts.

Money for policy is about as corrupt as it gets, and Russel Norman is quite right to be calling for a Commission of Inquiry. But it should not be restricted just to the current allegations surrounding New Zealand First. The financial dealings of all parties should be opened up to scrutiny.

Meanwhile, New Zealanders have a clear choice on ACC – Keep it public and improve it, which the Greens support, or hand it over to Australian-owned insurance companies under National.


18 thoughts on “Who paid for this policy?

  1. toad,

    You are reading National policy all wrong.

    Thaey dontr want to abolish the ACC. Just open it up to competition.

    What are you scared off?

    That the bloated ACC will not be able to foot it with the private accident insurance providers?

    How do you know if the current ACC set up is efficient? Could be wasting a pile of money that could be allocated to Health, Education, Public Transport, etc.

  2. Gerrit, I know more than a little bit about this area, having represented ACC claimants in reviews and appeals between 1992 and 2002.

    That included the period of the “competition” (I didn’t say privatisation) in workplace accident insurance in 1999-2000.

    I can assure you that the private insurers treated claimants appallingly, making decisions re cover and entitlements that were blatantly unlawful.

    They operated on the basis that, although there were a review and appeal rights, most claimants either didn’t know enough about them to progress cases themselves and couldn’t afford the cost of legal representation to have a barrister do it for them.

    That was the easy way for private insurers to maximise profits – much easier than working with their clients to minimise workplace injuries.

    The fundamental problem with private provision of ACC is that the choice of insurer is that of the employer – the injured employee has no choice and gets landed with whichever is the cheapest insurer the employer chooses (which is usually the worst in the context of properly deciding claims).

  3. But toad,

    If that was the case surely the majority of employers (ie state employers) would stick with the better option of ACC?

    Forcing private accident insurance providers to match what the state ACC had to offer?

    That is what competion is all about. The last round only lasted 9 months and was way to short for the competive process to kick in (and as one who had a carpal tunnel claim rejected by NZI at the time) for the empolyers and emplyees to gauge which particular scheme was best.

    The people I worked for at the time choose the cheapest option but soon changed back to the ACC version after staff were badly mistreated by NZI.

    The process for competitive evaluation was way to short.

  4. If private ensurers have to take ALL claimants not just the most profitable, (ie. if they’re not allowed to reject people or businesses) and meet all the same requirements and targets and obligations that ACC has to meet- in other words if it’s a truly equal competition- I don’t have a problem with them signing up to compete against ACC. But I just don’t see how any scheme that was actually fair to customers would be attractive for private ensurers to compete in. ACC is so good because it’s a monopoly, and because it’s not afraid to lose its own money in the short term for the sake of the economy as a whole.

    And the problem, Gerrit, is that ACC needs the more profitable cases where people don’t have as many accidents and don’t need as much cover- the exact cases that a cherry-picked unfair attempt at privatisation would steal away- in order to afford to the comprehensive cover it offers to those with pre-existing conditions or in very risky jobs. Even if these people stay in the scheme, it becomes a huge expense for the government and tempts more libertarian parties to drop it altogether. And then only the people who are profitable would be able to get insurance.

    That’s bad for all of us, because it hurts the economy as a whole.

  5. I should also point out that opening ACC up to unfair competition is actually worse than selling it, because instead of giving the government a cash boost, it leaves us holding the bill for insuring the people most likely to claim ACC.

    So amusingly, in promising not to sell ACC, National has come up with an even more extreme policy. =/

  6. Ari,

    How the heck can you cherry pick accident insurance?

    It is not like medical insurance were some people because of genetics and life style choices (non smokers, light drinkers, physically active, have regular medical check ups, etc.) offer a less risk cover.

    An accident can happen anytime and any place. You cant sherry pick anyone to be less likely to have an accident!

    Mind you the ACC does have occupation demographics were say the forestry industry has higher premiums then a lawyers office.

    No doubt the competing accident coverage providers would do the same.

  7. The most interesting aspect of this policy Gerrit, is that it is not supported by Business NZ or the Employers and Manufacturers’ Association – the strongest advocates of pro-business and pro-competition policy.

    And it is vehemently opposed by the unions and ACC claimant advocacy groups.

    So who does support it? Well, the National Party, the ACT Party, and, funnily enough, the only other vested interest I can identify is the Insurance Council and its foreign-owned member corporates.

    Which does reinforce my question, that if no corporate or NGO interests other than the insurance industry want this policy, has money changed hands to buy the policy for the insurance industry?

  8. The answer to your question, is in the question:

    “…because the party was known to be intending, if elected…”

    the money was donated based on the party’s existing policy.

    they liked the policy, so wanted to help get the party elected.

    we can argue about whether ‘big business’ should be allowed to make these donations, but it’s clearly not cash for polcies.

  9. peteremcc, it is not that simple. Because of National’s shadowy electoral finance Trusts we don’t know when the donation was received, or even if it was received, by the National Party. All we know about the donation is that Nicky Hager claims a senior National Party person told him it was received.

    What we do know is that the revelation re the donation claimed by Hager occurred after several meeting between senior people in the National Party and several people in the insurance industry. Hager asserts that he has emails verifying that those meetings occurred, and they were quite obviously lobbying meetings re National’s ACC policy.

    Now there is nothing wrong with lobbying, but if the course of events were that the insurance industry offered the $1m+ donation in the event that the National Party came up with the “right” (privatisation) policy, National duly obliged and developed the policy, and the donation was then made, that is seiously corrupt.

    At the moment we just don’t know what happened, and it may all be perfectly innocent, but I think there is enough suspicion arising from the evidence that is in the public domain already to justify a Commission of Inquiry investigating this along with the allegations relating to NZFirst, United Future and the Velas.

  10. Toad,

    All for that public enquiry so that Hagar will have to reveal names, his email sources, his proof that the emails are genuine, the IP address trail to proof their sources, and how he come into pocession of them, etc.

    Somehow I doubt he will reveal anything as it would expose him to possible criminal charges. Without those sources the allegations fall over.

    And why wont he come out of the closet with these irrevocable revelations?

    He has none. It is all a fabrication and more fool you to believe something without evidence.

    Heck even Winston Peters got the benefit of the doubt until Ross Meurant’s revelations.

    So lets see the emails, lets see the National party insiders names, let the evidence talk.

    Not sure Hagars reputation as a writer will be enhanced. He has no evidence so anything he writes in the future will be seen as pure hockem unless he reveals all.

  11. Gerrit, according to the Endnotes to The Hollow Men

    Brash met with Mai Chen (from the law firm Chen, Palmer and Partners) at his office on 17 August 2004 to discuss ‘ACC etc’ and then attended a Chen,Palmer lunch at Otto’s Restaurant in Auckland alter that month where Chen’s client, Stephen Cosgrove of QBE Insurance Limited, was listed as wanting to discuss ‘Reprivatisation of ACC’. (Don Brash, appointment diaries, 17 August 2004 and 30 August 2004; guest list for 30 August 2004 dinner).

    These meetings led on to Brash and MP Paul Hutchison meeting with Insurance Council CEO Chris Ryan on 13 October 2004, where they had a ‘briefing on details of ACC policy meeting with Mai Chen’ and to prepare for a 27 October Insurance COuncil meeting.

    At 11.30am on 27 October 2004, Brash, Murray McCully and Hutchison attended a meeting of the Insurance Council of New Zealand in Auckland.

    Discussions between Mai Chen, QBE Insurance and National continued in the 2005 election year, including on 28 July 2005 when Chen and QBE managing director Ross Chapman discussed ‘ACC privatisation policy’ with Brash and gave him a 26-page aide memoire setting out the details of how QBE believed National’s privatisation of ACC should be done. (Don Brash, appointment diary, 28 July 2005; QBE Insurance (International) Ltd ‘Aide Memoire to Don Brash from QBE Insurance (International) Ltd on Greater Competition in Accident Compensation Services’, 27 July 2004.)

    There is sufficient detail here that has to be based on evidence in Hager’s possession, and that is in the National Party’s possession. He hasn’t just made it up. Interestingly, National have never denied that any of these meetings occurred.

    Nor have they ever denied Hager’s assertion that they subsequently received a $1m+ donation from the insurance industry.

  12. Nor have they ever denied Hager’s assertion that they subsequently received a $1m+ donation from the insurance industry.

    Why do they have to deny it. Surely the onus of proof lies with the accusor?

    Bit like if I said the Greens received a $1M donation from Greenpeace.

    Why should the Greens have to refute those claims?

    Like I said, bring on the enquiry, I just have the feeling that the accussors will be thin on the ground with unrefuteable evidence.

    Just because a meeting took place does not mean the conclusions reached by you and Hagar are true.

    You need meeting minutes and follow up correspondence for that. If Hagar has them then why not front?

    Unless he has got them illegally and they are therefore of questionable value.

    The timng of any relaease is also too late now to have an impact on this election, Conclusion I draw is that there is nothing, just hot air.

    But you can believe what you want.

    Why should the Greens have to refute the statement?

  13. Gerrit, Hager doesn’t make the allegation himself that the donation was received. What he says is that he was told by a senior National Party person that the donation was received. On that basis, I think there is some onus on the National party to fefute the allegation.

    He obviously doesn’t want to reveal the source – perhaps because the information was disclosed to him on a confidential basis and to do so would break that confidence and compromise his integrity as an investigative writer.

    I haven’t actually reached any conclusions about the substance of the allegation, and I don’t think Hager has either. He states (p 246) “The other possible million-dollar donations story is also unconfirmed”.

    The conclusion I have reached is that, as with the NZFirst -Vela affair, there is sufficient here to justify a Commission of Inquiry with the power to subpoena evidence and have witnesses testify under oath or affirmation.

  14. toad,

    I think we are talking at cross purposes. I want the enquiry as much as you do.

    However for that enquiry to draw a conclusion on Hagars allegations, he has to front up with the evidence.

    What I’m saying is that he wont front because he has no evidence. And hence cant prove the allegation.

    What you are saying is that he has the evidence but cant tell an inquiry into the allegation because of confidentiality.

    Well no evidense means no proof, No proof means the allegation is baseless.

    My theory that he has no evidence stands, because the Labour party, stearing defeat in the face, could hav used that evidence during its election smear campaign to defasting effect yet it did not. Why? There is no evidence.

    And, goodness me, they were led the smear campaign with John Key transactions 20 years ago (proven unfounded) and sectret tape recording.

    If the had the allegation evidense “in the bag” they would have aired it.

    No, it is all a baseless rumour and skullduggery on the part of Hagar and his Labour masters.

    Be careful the Greens dont get smeared with the conspiracy theories when in opposition with Labour after Saturday.

    Especially if the Greens get above the 10% rating and Labour struggle to get above 30%.

    You will be in the firing line from the Labour party to retrieve votes for the 2011 election.

    And with their Union money they can do much harm to the Greens.

  15. Where else in the world is there fully socialised no fault accident insurance with a government owned monopoly?


    Ever wondered why this great “example” has never come close to being implemented anywhere else?

  16. And what I am saying, Gerrit, is that if there is a Commission of Inquiry, the emails can be required under subpoena to be presented to the Commission for examination.

  17. Are there emails? Thats what I’m asking.

    Have you seen them? Are they legit (or real)?

    How come the labour party has not used them in this eletion? In what will be their only chance.

    And what do they say, these ill gotton emails (if they exist)?

    Nothing, else they would have been used.

    So lets have the enquiry, lest see the paper and electronic trail of how the emails got to be in possession of amongt others Winston Peters.

    Lot of hot air I tell you.

  18. The Nats have never denied there are emails – in fact they have acknowledged there are emails are because they complained to the Police alleging the emails had been stolen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s