I was initially puzzled by the extent of John Key’s reaction to his discovery of a $297m shortfall in the ACC non-earner account.
Sure, it might have been worthy of a media release – after all $297m is not an insignificant amount of money. But in the context of ACC it is only 6% of the annual budget and 3% of accumulated reserves.
I agree with Key that the previous Government didn’t handle it very well when they first knew about it, but why the urgent press conference, why the Ministerial inquiry, and why the over-the-top rhetoric from Key like “significant and serious hole in the Government accounts” and “very large ticking time bomb”?
Then I read a post by Eddie at The Standard and it all started to make sense.
While the National Government may be popular at the moment, its policy to open the ACC earner’s account to foreign insurance companies is not popular – even the Employers and Manufacturers Association, who have in the past supported privatising ACC, no longer support it.
So what better than to depict ACC as a dysfunctional organisation to weaken the public opposition to their privatisation proposals.
Of course it’s all a beat-up. The shortfall is in the non-earner’s account, which is taxpayer funded, but what National wants to privatise is the earner’s account, which is funded through levies.
The two issues are in reality completely unrelated. Don’t take us all for mugs John – you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.