At a time of unprecedented financial insecurity for New Zealand business owners and employees, the Government is preparing to add even more costs through a range of ACC levy increases, National’s ACC spokesperson Tim Macindoe says.
In February the chair of ACC Board told the Education and Workforce Select Committee that ‘there needs to be some increases in levies’, and the Minister has refused to rule these cost increases out despite the huge extra pressure New Zealanders now face in the Covid recovery period.
“ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway refused to answer questions when pressed repeatedly at the select committee, and it’s clear he wants to conceal his Government’s intentions this side of the general election and defer the required public consultation on the issue until October.
“The Minister acknowledged that the ACC Board has obtained legal advice on the timing of the public consultation, which is a clear indicator they’re looking to delay the process so ACC levy payers don’t know what’s in store for them until after they have cast their votes in September.
“Tens of thousands of New Zealanders have lost their jobs in the past months and our economy has entered a deep recession. This is the worst possible time to add to the cost burdens of our families, motorists and others, which is probably why the Government is trying to hide their intentions in the lead up to the election.
“It’s time they came clean with New Zealanders on what extra costs are coming.”
Senior citizens in rest homes are most at risk from Covid-19 and the Government needs to support them by ensuring mandatory testing for all new rest home residents, National’s Seniors spokesperson Tim Macindoe says.
“The Aged Care Association asked the Ministry of Health (MOH) close to two weeks ago for access to testing kits to ensure all new residents could be tested.
“Their request fell on deaf ears and rest homes are currently trying to obtain testing kits through their own means as a result.
“Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced a review of aged care facilities earlier this week. This is welcomed but rest homes shouldn’t be made to wait for these recommendations when the Government could be providing test kits now.
“The Government has claimed there is no shortage of testing kits.
“With testing currently well under the 40,000 capacity, there is no good reason for 700 kits a week not to be spared for rest homes.
“Providing this testing will not only lessen the chances of the virus spreading but also provide valuable confidence and assurance to residents and their family members.
“In times like this it is vital we work together to provide support for our most vulnerable citizens. The Government should help our senior citizens by providing access to testing.”
The Government needs to be doing more to address the risk of coronavirus in our vulnerable elderly communities, National’s Seniors spokesperson Tim Macindoe says.
“Both the New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA) and Retirement Villages Association (RVA) have said they are frustrated at the lack of responsiveness from Government and District Health Boards to their requests for urgent meetings around a coordinated response to Covid-19.
“Elderly New Zealanders are most at risk from coronavirus spreading, especially those in aged-care facilities and retirement villages.
“It’s critically important that those who represent the interests of our senior citizens are fully briefed and able to ensure that accurate, reliable information is quickly distributed to all such facilities throughout New Zealand, and appropriate steps are taken to protect the residents, staff and visitors from the risk of infection.
“For those who have responsibility to provide that information and leadership not to respond to the requests of the NZACA and the RVA is unacceptable, and further evidence of this Government’s woeful failure to provide the support and guidance that is so obviously needed.
“The Prime Minister has described the response to date as ‘textbook’, but she needs to ensure the textbook includes a chapter on protecting our seniors and delivering the nationally co-ordinated response that the New Zealand Aged Care Association and Retirement Villages Association are calling for.”
A Members’ Bill that would see convicted murderers ineligible for parole if they don’t reveal the location of their victim’s body has been lodged in the ballot, Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe says.
“An important part of coming to terms with the death of a loved one is the closure of bringing their body home. Sadly, there are some offenders who refuse to disclose where the bodies of their victims are.
“This adds considerably to the distress of relatives who sometimes spend a lifetime agonising over what might have happened, and their inability to hold a funeral and lay their family member to rest.
“The Concealment of Location of Victim Remains Bill would place a duty on the Parole Board to take into account a prisoner’s refusal to reveal the location of their victim’s body when considering whether they should be released.
“The United Kingdom is considering a similar law in response to the murder of Helen McCourt, who disappeared in 1988 and whose body has never been recovered. The offender was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 16 years. He has never revealed the whereabouts of Helen’s body.
“Too often, victims have reported feeling let down by our justice system, National will change that.
“National’s recently-released Law and Order Discussion Document contains a range of policies and proposals that will put victims at the heart of the justice system.”
National will review the ACC funding frameworks to provide clarity for claimants, including firefighters who have developed cancer as a result of their work, National’s ACC spokesperson Tim Macindoe says.
“Firefighters who may have developed cancer as a result of their work have relatively unique circumstances. Occupational diseases are covered by ACC, but it’s often difficult to prove the disease is work-related.
“In our Health Discussion Document, we’re proposing to explore the range of conditions confirmed to be linked to being a firefighter, develop a presumptive list of conditions, and give firefighters ACC cover for them.
“We’ll also review the funding by ACC of DHB-based accident-related care to ensure DHBs are sufficiently reimbursed for the accident-related acute care they provide.
“We know many ACC claimants find the process of establishing their conditions are accident-related is time-consuming, costly and stressful. National proposes working with ACC to explore a more efficient process for determining if an injury is covered, giving peace of mind and certainty to claimants.
“ACC is a valued component of our health system which provides essential financial and rehabilitation assistance to millions of New Zealanders.
“National is doing the work in Opposition so we’re ready to hit the ground running in 2020.”
Despite a Coalition Agreement to ‘relocate Government functions into the regions’, the Minister for ACC is doing the exact opposite, National’s ACC spokesperson Tim Macindoe says.
“Iain Lees Galloway confirmed in the Vote Labour Market Estimates Hearing that ACC plans to centralise ACC staff into main city centres, meaning employees in several regional offices are likely to lose their jobs.
“The Minister’s own electorate of Palmerston North will be one of the worst hit by the decision, with 20 redundancies expected.
“Meanwhile Timaru is set to have its staff numbers cut in half and Whanganui will see further cuts as well.
“This is a clear breach of the Government’s Coalition Agreement which stated that a priority for the Labour/New Zealand First Government was ‘a commitment to move Government functions into the regions’. New Zealand First campaigned on that promise in 2017 and people who voted for that pledge have every reason to feel betrayed.
“The Associate Minister’s answers to my questions in the House showed a lack of concern for the many ACC staff and their families who will be forced either to re-locate to a main city or face redundancy if they are unable to do so.
“It’s heartless and another clear example of the Coalition Government failing to deliver on their promises.”
At a time when there are growing calls for measures to encourage New Zealanders to drive safer cars, including within the Labour-led Government, ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has still not explained why he’s moving in the opposite direction, National’s ACC spokesperson Tim Macindoe says.
“Several years ago the previous National Government introduced a Vehicle Risk Rating mechanism to provide an incentive for people to purchase cars with enhanced safety features.
“Under National’s scheme lower registration fees currently apply to the safest cars on our roads. Mr Lees-Galloway has cancelled this incentive despite ACC crash statistics showing that safer, modern cars are significantly under-represented in New Zealand’s serious road trauma costs.
“I applaud NZTA’s current advertising campaign with the tag line ‘the safer the car, the safer they are’ and it’s inexplicable that a Government Minister is undermining it. New Zealand roads can be dangerous, as can other drivers, we should be encouraging Kiwis into safer cars, not the opposite.
“The Minister has been asked on several occasions to explain his decision and what evidence he considered when reaching this conclusion, but Mr Lees-Galloway has repeatedly failed to provide any data.
“It’s hard to see any explanation other than he didn’t request any.
“Mr Lees-Galloway must release any data that he relied upon in making his decision, otherwise his claim that ‘there is no evidence’ that the Vehicle Risk Rating mechanism created incentives for safer vehicle purchases is hollow.
“This lack of attention to detail is becoming a trend for this Minister, who has also made controversial immigration decisions without considering important evidence. It’s time he stopped cutting corners and undermining the road safety campaigns that are making a real difference to the lives of Kiwis.”
At a time when the Government is running a television campaign encouraging New Zealanders to purchase safer vehicles, they have also removed the financial incentive for them to do so, says National’s ACC spokesperson, Tim Macindoe.
“The Government is yet again demonstrating its talent for wasting large sums of taxpayers’ money with its blatantly contradictory move of funding a campaign to encourage people to purchase safer cars while increasing the costs if they do.
“NZTA’s current campaign on our TV screens uses the tag line, ‘The safer the car, the safer they are’, to encourage consumers to protect their children by purchasing vehicles with high safety ratings and features, yet the ACC Minister has just abolished the Vehicle Risk Rating scheme which was introduced several years ago to enhance the safety of our national fleet.
“The Minister has also been disingenuous this week in crowing that overall motor registration costs are not increasing.
“The truth is that 65 per cent of New Zealand vehicle owners will pay more to register their cars next year, and those who have invested in the safest cars - which his own Government pretends to encourage - face the biggest increase, in excess of 150 per cent.
“The Government says its priority is for ‘a safer transport network free of death and injury’ and yet it is placing a higher cost on people who have responded to encouragement to own safer cars. It’s a ridiculously mixed message and road safety campaigners will be justifiably outraged.”
ACC’s plan to shift a proposed petrol tax increase onto the motor vehicle levy doesn’t change the fact that it would hurt Kiwis who are already suffering from the Labour-led Government’s ill-thought out policies, National’s ACC spokesperson Tim Macindoe says.
“New Zealand motorists might have thought ACC’s decision to drop a proposed petrol levy was good news, but it’s far from it. ACC has simply shifted the ratio funding around so Kiwis will still have to pay the proposed increase, just at the time they pay their registration rather than at the pump.
“This is despite the Minister saying that ACC would have to make a ‘very, very strong case’ to increase the fuel levy which he also wouldn’t rule out. It now seems ACC is still looking to claim the tax from motorists by increasing the motor vehicle levy by 12 per cent.
“A tax hike on Kiwis already battling with the rising cost of living is still a tax hike, no matter how the Labour-led Government and ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway try to hide it.
“This might suit the Labour-led Government just fine, as it seeks to avoid the public relations challenge of yet another levy on top of the ones they’ve already piled on at the pump. But it does nothing to alleviate the pain Kiwis are feeling with the rising costs of day-to-day living.
“These moves would begin to reverse the significant reductions made by the previous National Government who brought the motor vehicle levy down from $335 in 2013 to $114 in 2017.
“The ACC Minister needs to front up to New Zealanders on what changes he will make to the ACC levies and refrain from dialling up costs on Kiwi families even further.”
In spite of strike action by ACC medical specialists with at least four more to follow in the next month, we haven’t heard a peep from the ACC Minister as more discontent and industrial action rattles the health sector, National’s spokesperson for ACC Tim Macindoe says.
“Hard on the heels of last week’s nurses’ strike, with those pay claims still unresolved, ACC medical specialists are also striking but like his colleague Health Minister David Clark, the ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway is missing in action.
“Given that he also holds the Workplace Relations portfolio, the Minister should be setting the standard and explaining how he is going to quell widespread industrial disruption in our vital public services.
“He is failing to do so and meanwhile the grievances are increasing rapidly, and New Zealanders are suffering major inconvenience and anxiety as a consequence.
“The under-prepared Minister had very little to say about his ACC portfolio when he appeared in front of the Education and Workforce Select Committee frequently deferring to his Chief Executive and Chairperson to hide his lack of answers.
“Our public services are increasingly being disrupted by strike action while the Government fails to live up to its promises.
“It’s time for the Minister to step up and let the public know what is being done about the five weeks of strike action and for him to give an assurance that things in his portfolio are under control.”