Wednesday, June 01, 2011

National's plans to kill ACC

The National-led government is moving ahead with plans to privatise New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Commission (ACC). Today they announced that it would be “opened up” to competition from private insurance companies from October of next year—if National/Act win the election. They revealed their intention to do this a year and a half ago.

Ever since taking power in 2008, National/Act have been working to get rid of ACC. First, they lied about the supposedly bad situation with ACC’s finances. Then, they used that as an excuse to raise fees on ordinary working New Zealanders—tax increases by another name. This, of course, made it easier for them to cut the taxes of the rich.

National also used their imaginary “crisis” to gut rehabilitation services and impose fees on patients, forcing people, especially poor work working people, to forgo treatment due to cost. The National/Act Government recently announced plans to “review” the Sickness and Invalid’s benefits, obviously with an eye toward dropping people from the rolls—people who may be on the rolls in the first place because, thanks to National/Act, they couldn’t afford the rehabilitation services necessary to help them get back into work.

National has engaged in a campaign of deliberate deception and distortion about ACC, all as part of a marketing plan to soften-up Kiwi voters so they’ll accept the National/Act plan to privatise ACC—just like the previous National government did. Back then, when Labour came into power, they re-nationalised ACC. This pattern looks likely to repeat itself.

And that’s the way things go: National gets into power, guts everything that ordinary New Zealanders rely on and generally wrecks the country. Then Labour gets in and fixes everything, until the people get sick of them and put National back in to start the process all over again. The problem is that each time Labour gets back in to clean up the mess National’s made, things are never fully restored and we continue to move, in fits and starts, toward National’s goal of a corporatist state in which profits and riches always come ahead of the people.

New Zealanders should take a good long look at the country as it is now. If National/Act win the next election, in 2014 this will be very different, a much harsher and crueller country. Privatisation of ACC is only one of the many awful things National/Act plans to do to ordinary, hardworking New Zealanders. The question is, will That Nice Mr Key™ fool them into voting against their own best interests?

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