ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway spoke to officials urgently after the Christchurch mosques shooting, acutely aware that the country’s no-fault accident compensation scheme had a glaring gap. The Accident Compensation Corporation, or ACC, covers death and injury, and is a safety net for those injured at work. But, other than providing a handful of initial counselling sessions, it doesn’t cover those mentally injured who aren’t physically harmed.
For example, a plumber driving to a job who was traumatised by seeing a person shot by the gunman on March 15 is eligible for weekly ACC compensation of 80 percent of their pay. But an uninjured worshipper at the Al Noor or Linwood mosques, who witnessed the death of the person praying next to them and now has post-traumatic stress disorder, doesn’t qualify.
The Cabinet paper, released on MBIE’s website last Friday, shows that Lees-Galloway sought an endorsement from the business committee to extend ACC’s usual coverage to help mentally traumatised victims of the mosques shooting.
It outlined three possible ways to do that: a ministerial direction under the Crown Entities Act, funded by extra money; a law change; or a support package delivered by ACC, via an agreement with the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).
Lees-Galloway said in the paper that a ministerial directive would provide a “one-off response that is quick and relatively easy to implement”. The targeted nature of the response minimised fiscal risks, and risks over a possible expansion of ACC, the paper said. ACC’s board would need to be consulted – “a short consultation period of no longer than a few days is appropriate” – and new funding would need to be found.
So the Minister proposed a fix.
Assembled ministers – including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, deputy PM Winston Peters, Labour’s deputy leader Kelvin Davis, and Finance Minister Grant Robertson – sided with Treasury and rejected Lees-Galloway’s plan.
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