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Labour Warns Of Consequences For Accident Victims

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
David Parker
David Parker

Wellington, Feb 25 NZPA - The Labour Party is warning of serious consequences for accident victims now that Parliament has passed a bill that reduces some ACC entitlements, changes work assessment rules and raises levies.

ACC Minister Nick Smith's bill was passed 64-58 last night after two days of debate and with Parliament sitting in urgency.

Labour's ACC spokesman, David Parker, said every New Zealand worker now had less cover for workplace injuries.

"A full time worker will be able to be pushed off all cover when he or she is well enough to work 30 hours a week, rather than the current 35," he said.

"ACC will be able to disregard pre-accident earnings, so that a middle income person will be able to be deemed work ready and pushed off ACC even if they can't carry out the well paid work they used to do."

Mr Parker said the changes included lower weekly compensation for part-timers and seasonal workers, as well as rules allowing earnings-related compensation and rehabilitation to be cut off earlier for all workers.

Labour fought the bill through all its clauses during the debate on Tuesday and yesterday, but Dr Smith told them it was their government that left it in a dire state.

"Maryan Street, former ACC minister, signed off on a $2.4 billion loss in ACC in June 2008," he said.

"But it's worse than that -- after declaring a $2.4 billion loss, in a cynical political exercise Labour extended ACC into a dozen additional areas without providing any funding."

Dr Smith said if he had not made changes to the scheme, levies would have risen to levels people could not pay and he had managed to cut the increases in half.

"Can New Zealanders afford an extra $74 per car...can New Zealanders afford an additional $300 for the earners levy for someone on the average wage, can businesses afford a 25 percent increase in their levies on April ?" he said.

"This government says they can't."

Dr Smith said Labour was in denial and seemed to be ignorant of the pressure businesses were under and the costs that would be imposed if the bill was not passed.

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