Questions for ACC

June 5th, 2012 at 5:14 pm by David Farrar

The Herald further reports:

The Accident Compensation Corporation maintains “a threat had been made” by former National Party insider at December meeting at which a massive privacy breach was discussed.

Police this morning confirmed they would not press charges against Ms Pullar in relation to the meeting where managers claim Ms Pullar threatened to go to the media about the privacy breach unless she was given a two year guaranteed benefit.

“After careful consideration of the evidence now available and a separate legal review of the facts we have determined that no offence has been disclosed,” Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said in a statement. …

An ACC report on the meeting found Ms Pullar “proposed in relation to her own individual case she would like to negotiate a guaranteed benefit payment for two years”.

“She made threats that if her demands weren’t met, she would not return the information and would inform the media.”

ACC Chairman John Judge this afternoon said he was completely satisfied the report was a “complete and accurate” account of what took place at the meeting.

“Our staff at the meeting considered that a threat had been made… They felt pressure.”

ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart said the corporation had “zero tolerance of wrongdoing and we felt obliged to seek an independent opinion to confirm whether there was wrong-doing that was sufficiently serious for Police to lay charges”.

“Should ACC be confronted with a similar situation the same action will be taken,” he said.

I find this situation deeply suspicious, and think the Minister should start looking for new board members. Here’s some questions I have:

  1. If ACC felt there was blackmail at the December 2011 meeting, why did they wait until March 2012 to complain to the Police? Surely they should have rushed down there the next day, rather than three and a half months later.
  2. Why did they only complain to the Police, after media stories of their privacy breach was made public? If the complaint was not made to discredit the complainant, why was the complaint made just days after the media story?
  3. Why did ACC make public their Police complaint? Have they ever publicised any other complaint to the Police?
  4. Does ACC consider a disgruntled complainant who threatens them with bad publicity is breaking the law in doing so? If so, then do they consider it against the law to criticise ACC publicly?
  5. Can ACC reconcile the report from their managers about the meeting, with the tape recording made of the meeting?
  6. Can ACC point to what part of the transcript of the meeting constitutes blackmail as they alleged?
  7. Considering the Police have stated that “no offence has been disclosed”, do they not accept they were wrong to complain to the Police?
  8. Did ACC  seek any independent legal advice before deciding to lay a complaint with the Police? If not, why not?
  9. Does ACC condone the use of complaints to the Police in future, if a customer “pressures” staff?
  10. Once again, why did they wait three and a half months to complain to the Police, and only after negative media stories emerged on their privacy breach?

If I was on the ACC Board I would be demanding management answer these questions.

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36 Responses to “Questions for ACC”

  1. RandySavage (202 comments) says:

    op is a propaganda artist
    cut the strings mate

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  2. Keeping Stock (10,182 comments) says:

    Excellent post DPF; you hit the nail on the head. There should be deep concern over the senior management of ACC, and I expect that Ralph Stewart is going to be getting a “please explain” from his Minister very, very soon.

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  3. davidp (3,558 comments) says:

    >If I was on the ACC Board I would be demanding management answer these questions.

    If I were the government I would be asking why I own a monopoly corporation that is guaranteed to piss people off, attract frequent negative media attention (this case, higher levies, anti-motorcycle etc), and occasionally require the resignation of a minister. One of the benefits from a competitive privately-owned market place is that people vote with their feet, bad companies fail, and no-one blames politicians. So why do politicians insist on inserting themselves in to situations like ACC, immigration decisions, and foreign investment decisions where they can fail but never win?

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  4. Nostalgia-NZ (5,045 comments) says:

    Why didn’t the Minister ask the questions earlier? Was there an assumption that Pullar had no credibility, or that her credibility should be attacked, only for the later discovery that she had taped the conversation to prevail over the workings of mice and men.

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  5. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Or was their an assumption that due process should be followed (given the police were investigating)?…

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  6. Steve (North Shore) (4,524 comments) says:

    I can answer question 1.
    ACC senior management are untouchable. Any case manager is just the rottweiler to keep you away from the decision makers.
    The reason it takes 3 months or more is because nobody wants to be accountable, so it goes in circle and you get an agrrement type decision. My own file (still active) from 3 years ago has been through no fewer than 90 ACC employees. Review is still pending.
    They are experts at delaying process

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  7. Keeping Stock (10,182 comments) says:

    @bhudson – I think you’re right. I would expect things to escalate now that the police investigation has completed, finding that no offence has been committed; a bit different to what Newstalk ZB has been saying all afternoon; that there was not enough evidence against Ms Pullar.

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  8. Nostalgia-NZ (5,045 comments) says:

    bhudson.

    But what about before the complaint was laid. Are we to accept that the Minister wasn’t being advised on what had become a political hot cake?

    It looks like Boag and Pullar will sue judging by TV1 interview this evening. The correct word ‘extortion’ is being used, that’s what ACC were claiming.

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  9. peterwn (3,215 comments) says:

    davidp – John Key and co would love to allow private competition but Labour/ Greens / unions are dead opposed. The insurance industry does not want to gear up to offer ACC type cover only to have this dismantled by a future left wing government as happened in 2000.

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  10. Keeping Stock (10,182 comments) says:

    The Minister WAS advised Nostalgia; ACC reported to her about Pullar’s alleged “extortion”, and Collins released that report publicly. At the same time ACC called the cops in. It seems that the advice given to Collins by ACC was wrong; whether that was by accident or design is open to speculation.

    Pullar will be glad that she recorded the meeting with ACC, and the police say that they listened to that recording. It beggars belief that ACC continue to insist that they are in the right.

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  11. trout (921 comments) says:

    John Judge however has said he has not listened to the recording; hear no evil, see no evil…….

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  12. Yvette (2,745 comments) says:

    ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart said the corporation had “zero tolerance of wrongdoing and we felt obliged to seek an independent opinion to confirm whether there was wrong-doing that was sufficiently serious for Police to lay charges”.

    Quite obviously, Ms Pullar should now take the appropriate action to sue ACC for making a wrongful complaint to the Police, that now being the corollary of today’s Police statement.

    “Should ACC be confronted with a similar situation the same action will be taken,” he said. – ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart
    in answer to DPF’s point –
    9. Does ACC condone the use of complaints to the Police in future, if a customer “pressures” staff?

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  13. Nostalgia-NZ (5,045 comments) says:

    Keeping Stock

    I’ll go along with the ‘by accident or design,’ whose accident or design remains – which leaves the question posed above why would ‘extortion’ not be met with an immediate response. Additionally, why the Minister wouldn’t be concerned about the delay in the climate of the other worrying events, particularly where the department now claims they would make the same, presumably belated, complaint again.

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  14. Keeping Stock (10,182 comments) says:

    I’m sure that Ms Collins will be concerned Nostalgia, and I’m ewually sure that the Chair and CEO of ACC will be hearing about her concerns, if in fact they haven’t already this afternoon.

    I’d also venture to suggest that Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little might also be concerned; ACC’s high-handed, cavalier behaviour in theis case makes it entirely possible that somewhere there and not in Collins’ office released the Pullar/Boag e-mail.

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  15. Nostalgia-NZ (5,045 comments) says:

    I’ll go back Keeping Stock. Why is all of this so unexpected to the Minister? Why didn’t she review the complaint, instead of taking it on face value when it was obviously in her department’s interest to undermine the credibility of Boag and Pullar. Surely she saw that, understood the seriousness of allegations of extortion and if they weren’t legitimised that trouble would loom even larger. Due process must also be the satisfaction that allegations of this nature are well founded, and not founded on desperation within the scope of your own watch.

    This stuff is giving the impression of too ‘hands off’ to be credible from the Minister’s office. In respect of your last point, I don’t see how somebody within the department leaking the email strengthens anything for the Minister when there is apparently so much dysfunction in her own department. As I’ve said earlier – she should be furnishing a comprehensive explanation of the leak and not taking the position of a respondent.

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  16. Viking2 (11,283 comments) says:

    Given all this and more eminate from ACC’s inability to have a secure IT system then the responsibility for everything that follows lies with the Chair, the board and the CEO. Clearly a situation of failed governance.

    That’s where the cleanout should begin along with those that made the malicious complaint to the police. One would consider the Police should be looking at charging someone for making a false complaint well.

    ACC has been rotten to the core for a longtime. We fund it compulsorily, we get abused when we require its services.
    Sounds like a magical customer service company.

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  17. Nostalgia-NZ (5,045 comments) says:

    False complaint for sure. But why didn’t the Minister satisfy herself that it was legitimate and in the public’s interest when the garnishing so obviously could be taken as butt covering.

    ‘We fund it compulsorily, we get abused when we require its services.’ Not only that, our effective cover, but not our costs, are eroded by the magic formula of ‘degeneration’ or existing ‘pre-conditions.’ Now we have the additional peril of being charged with ‘extortion’ for seeking proper application of the Act.

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  18. burt (8,036 comments) says:

    ACC has been rotten to the core for a longtime. We fund it compulsorily, we get abused when we require its services.
    Sounds like a magical customer service company classic self serving monopoly.

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  19. KH (694 comments) says:

    Cop know what they are doing here. My view would be Boag and Pullar did toss around the threats. But the cops did not find this was likely to impress a Judge enough to convict. Or even that there is a law against what happened, even if it was nasty.

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  20. Keeping Stock (10,182 comments) says:

    That’s the point Nostalgia; Collins hotly denies that she or her office leaked the Boag e-mail, whereas ACC seems to not be above dirty tricks. That’s why I made reference to Mallard and Little; if anything, what’s emerging from ACC today in light of the police’s decision that there was no offence comitted would suggest that there is a culture of deception and game-playing from ACC, and that will lean towards Collins’ version of events. I doubt that Collins will be taking any information she receives from ACC at face value for a while.

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  21. big bruv (13,571 comments) says:

    Sounds like another good reason to do away with the government department that is ACC.

    We should have the work contracted out to a private company who are then tasked with taking far better care of the tax payers money, the first thing this private company should be looking at are people like Fuller.

    Given that Fuller has (reportedly) been paid out a small fortune by a private insurer and (reportedly) been paid a lump sum by ACC then I fail to see why she (Fuller) was not told to fuck off years ago.

    The ACC system is being rorted by thousands of Kiwis, I would wager that every one of us knows at least one person who has, or is, ripping off ACC (the tax payer).

    Shut the thing down and contract out the work to a private company, I can only see this being a win/win scenario.

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  22. RRM (9,667 comments) says:

    I see Whale Oil is being his usual, tactful self over all of this…

    http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2012/03/michelle-boag-is-a-lying-poisonous-scumbag/

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  23. RRM (9,667 comments) says:

    Well said Big Bruv.

    And while those who can, rort the system shamelessly… real blokes who lose their livelihood through incidents that are no fault of their own, and are even borderline someone else’s fault get little or no help, and are constantly being harangued by “case managers” tasked with creating hurdles and making as many of them as possible give up even trying to seek help. Clients are a hindrance to the efficient running of a govt department.

    I’m no “sell ACC” ideologue, but what we’re doing now is clearly not very good and it barely functions…

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  24. Nostalgia-NZ (5,045 comments) says:

    Keeping Stock how do you see that a ship Captain removes him or herself from responsibility, or an employer from that of his or her staff. It doesn’t happen. When serious matters arise the boss has got to be in there boots and all satisfying themselves of the situation – you know that as an employer. The less responsible an employee appears to be, the more attention required from the employer. I agree that ACC are up to dirty tricks, even at a policy level, but only one person is the boss. The lights were flashing a red warning, a big red warning.

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  25. Leaping Jimmy (16,111 comments) says:

    Lots of confusion here.

    ACC is a no fault accident compo scheme that the rest of the world which doesn’t have it envies.

    Seriously. It does.

    It is not a punishment scheme for recalcitrant employers. It is a scheme the big insurance companies wish we didn’t have.

    Bear those factors in mind as you consider it.

    So in this case, one case, one. The issues are suspicious, indicate power mania if not hungriness, blah blah blah.

    So what.

    This doesn’t mean the whole scheme is broken. Although perhaps the Nats have an agenda of communicating those L-I-E-S as part of their 2014 “strategy.”

    Who knows. Eh?

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  26. peterwn (3,215 comments) says:

    The matter of threats came up with Immigration Dept a few years ago. Several immigrants got residency status on the basis they would invest $1M in NZ. However it was apparently a revolving door arrangement where the same $1M was recycled several times. When Immigration got wind of this they demanded bank statements etc from the immigrants under threat of cancelling residency status. Tuariki Delamere their adviser in response mounted private blackmail prosecutions against various immigration staff including Mary Anne Thompson (then Immigration chief). The affidavits filed were sufficiently plausible to persuade a judge to allow the prosecutions to proceed but presumably Crown Law managed to derail them. It seems ACC are trying to stretch this aspect in a similar way as Tuariki tried.

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  27. burt (8,036 comments) says:

    Leaping Jimmy

    ACC is a no fault accident compo scheme that the rest of the world which doesn’t have it envies.knows it can’t afford and doesn’t pretend it can.

    There fixed that for you.

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  28. Leaping Jimmy (16,111 comments) says:

    burt, look at the tort litigation overseas where ACC doesn’t exist and the insurance cover necessary to carry common or garden liability for everyday things.

    U.S.

    Canada.

    Australia.

    U.K.

    NZ

    Which would you rather have?

    Case closed.

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  29. burt (8,036 comments) says:

    Leaping Jimmy

    I’d rather know what I was paying for – that’s the key issue with ACC. You know what it will cost and you know that you have to pay it and that you have no choice – but the “compensation” you get is entirely up to ACC on the day. There is no contract for “compensation” only for payment.

    What I would rather have Jimmy is choice – choice and the ability to actually know what “compensation” I’ll receive as well as what payments I’m expected to make.

    In the early 90′s the Canadian gover sent a social policy team to NZ to study ACC – their conclusion was that it was an excellent scheme but with a population of only 15m the Canadians decided they couldn’t afford such a luxury…. but hey with 3.2m as we had at that time – we knew better didn’t we……

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  30. RightNow (6,844 comments) says:

    “Which would you rather have?”

    Less gravy for accidents

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  31. Joseph Carpenter (211 comments) says:

    I can’t speak about the Pullar business but in my recent dealings with ACC they are clearly dysfunctional. My case isn’t as bad as North Shore Steve @ 6.11pm but it took 47 staff and 19 months to resolve a case involving a claim of approx. $16,000.
    In my line of business we simply wouldn’t be in business if this was standard practice. Serious question:
    - Would it be normal for an insurance company to have 47 staff involved and take 19 months to decide on a standard routine $16,000 claim?
    - Would it be normal for a medical centre to have 47 staff and take 19 months deciding on a basic routine treatment costing $16,000 in total?

    So I checked ACC out and I was shocked at how out of control and what a leviathan it has become:
    Annual Expenditure (FY2011/12):
    $863 million compensation payments (34%).
    $498 million administration (20%).
    $486 million medical treatment (19%).
    $412 million rehabilitation and accident prevention (16%).
    $249 million hospital costs (10%).
    $2.51 billion total spending.
    Total staff = 2,800 f.t.e. + 1,100 contractors.
    WTF! – 20% admin overhead and 3,900 full time staff for a legislated monopoly financial services company.

    Income:
    $1,180 million employees earners account levies.
    $677 million employees non-earner account levies.
    $779 million motor vehicle levies.
    $792 million employers work account levies.
    $262 million treatment account levies.
    $3.7 billion total levy and tax income.
    + $20.4 billion total nett investments with investment income of $1,292 million.

    Total income = $5.0 billion – WTF! that’s more than the entire Government company and trust tax revenues and twice the amount they actually spent – 100%+ margin. This thing is a gravy train that no longer serves the people of NZ and its original purpose.

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  32. Mark (1,434 comments) says:

    The case for competition in the acc system is compelling if only to modify their behaviour. I am not convinced that Pullar is an innocent party in this either but he said she said type accusations will never stand proper scrutiny.

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  33. tvb (4,255 comments) says:

    Bronwyn Pullar should just go into a hole and never emerge. She has shamelessly used her national party contacts for personal gain, a Ministers career lies in ruins because he got involved with her. I am simply sick of her.

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  34. Paulus (2,565 comments) says:

    Watch the obfuscation in this re Little and Mallard.
    The police decision has nothing to do with the defamation case whatsoever.
    Simply Little and Mallard have to PROVE their case, – the Minister does not have to prove anything (or technically be there).

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  35. wynkie (86 comments) says:

    Boag was just on Radio Live….more questions:

    11/Why did ACC deliberately withhold evidence from the Police (i.e., the recording) in relation to their complaint?

    Answer: Because ACC knew the recording proved their complaint was false.

    Pullar’s press release stated ACC legal advisors were provided a copy of the recording and transcript of the 1 December meeting by the 12th April, and BOTH Ralph Stewart and Board Representative Ku Seymour (Board Secretary) have heard the recording and read the transcript on 20 April. Yet apparently ACC were fully aware there was a recording back in March.

    12/When did the Police find out about the recording?

    Answer: By reading about it in the newspaper on 30 April.

    13/How long did ACC sit on the recording before it became a matter of public knowledge?

    Answer: Almost a month. (Clearly had it been advantageous to ACC they would have leaked that surely?)

    14/Are ACC aware that concealing evidence with intent to deceive is a criminal offence?

    Answer: Clearly not.

    258 Altering, concealing, destroying, or reproducing documents with intent to deceive

    • (1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who, with intent to obtain by deception any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, or to cause loss to any other person,—
    o (a) alters, conceals, or destroys any document, or causes any document to be altered, concealed, or destroyed; or
    o (b) makes a document or causes a document to be made that is, in whole or in part, a reproduction of any other document.
    (2) An offence against subsection (1) is complete as soon as the alteration or document is made with the intent referred to in that subsection, although the offender may not have intended that any particular person should—
    o (a) use or act upon the document altered or made; or
    o (b) act on the basis of the absence of the document concealed or destroyed; or
    o (c) be induced to do or refrain from doing anything.
    Compare: 1961 No 43 ss 231, 256, 266A

    15/Are ACC aware that making a false complaint to Police is a criminal matter?

    Answer: Obviously, that is why they were busy still trying to cover their butts at the press conference yesterday.

    16/Who wrote making a false complaint to Police?

    Answer: Ralph Stewart? On whose advice?

    17/Are the CEO, Chairman and others aware that concealing evidence after a ‘crime’ is actually a criminal act?

    ANSWER: Lets see how much effort ACC goes towards trying to conceal the evidence of the crime.

    Section 258: substituted, on 1 October 2003, by section 15 of the Crimes Amendment Act 2003 (2003 No 39).
    312 Accessory after the fact to crime
    • Every one who is accessory after the fact to any crime punishable by imprisonment, being a crime in respect of which no express provision is made by this Act or by some other enactment for the punishment of an accessory after the fact, is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years if the maximum punishment for that crime is imprisonment for life, and not exceeding 5 years if such maximum punishment is imprisonment for 10 or more years; and in any other case is liable to not more than half the maximum punishment to which he would have been liable if he had committed the crime.
    Compare: 1908 No 32 ss 352, 353

    ACC has stated they have zero tolerance for fraud and wrong-doing.

    Really???

    Who drove this false complaint to the Police???? (criminal act)
    Why did ACC conceal evidence of a crime by failing to advise Police of the recording proving there was no threat as claimed by Verberne and Murch? (criminal act)
    Are ACC now trying to conceal their own crime of having made a false complaint to Police????? (criminal act)

    There is VERY serious stuff and clearly the CEO and Board (and Minister?) may have good reason to protect their position.

    Are their roles compromised now that they could potentially face investigation by Police?

    This is all very messy.

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  36. orewa1 (428 comments) says:

    This is turning into the biggest scandal any NZ public institution has faced in a lifetime.

    Conceptually, ACC is a huge asset to NZ. But misguided management, a lazy board, and insufficiently vigilant Ministers have allowed it to be captured by its own staff for their personal benefit. Its out of control.

    It has placed itself above scrutiny and the law. Its response to Pullargate seems to have been driven by its PR team rather than its legal team.

    Prediction – 3 months from now Stewart will be gone along with several of his top managers, there will be a fully-fledged external inquiry under way, and Crusher’s reputation will be severely dented.

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