Don’t expect Bronwyn Pullar’s name to be in the New Years honours list, but there is a view she has done us all a service by forcing ACC to front up on its shortcomings. John Armstrong agrees with that assessment which was expressed yesterday by Michael Crompton, a former Australian Privacy Commissioner who helped author one of the ACC reviews – see Armstrong’s Pullar has done us a huge favour. [Read more below]
Sometimes political scandals do indeed work out well due to the power of activist-inclined citizens and investigative journalism. The shakeup of ACC that we’re currently witnessing would never have happened if not for the dogged work of Bronwyn Pullar and Phil Kitchin of the Dominion Post. Kitchin himself points out that there is still more to come – neither of the reports yesterday dealt with the laying of the blackmail complaint against Pullar – see: Culture of fear at ACC.
The independent reports are, for the most part, highly-technocratic in focus, non-ideological and non-political. Although they contain some very sensible recommendations for improving ACC, they are unlikely to produce any significant changes to the nature of the organisation. They recommend that operating systems are improved and the board needs to pay closer attention to some key issues. They don’t address deeper concerns which are very much political – such as the way that recent governments have reconfigured the Corporation to operate along private sector lines.
For example, Danya Levy reports Greens ACC spokesperson Kevin Hague’s explanation for the current problems in ACC: ‘much of the culture could be attributed to former ACC minister Nick Smith's directive to the corporation in 2009 to focus on its bottom line. However, he said that change begun in the late 1990s when the former National government moved from a "pay as you go" funding model to an insurance industry-type funding model. It was not reversed by the former Labour government’ – see: Political consensus needed on ACC. The single-minded focus on reducing long-term client numbers was identified as one reason for the board dropping the ball over Pullar’s case, and Danyl Mclauchlan at the Dim Post has a graph showing just how determined they were on this measure – even if it meant just shifting clients onto sickness benefits – see: Speaking of ACC.
ACC Minister Judith Collins says the recommendations will be implemented, although it is worth noting that the ‘culture of fear’ amongst senior managers probably isn’t improved with the steady stream of heads rolling – a case of the floggings will continue until morale improves? Jock Anderson at the NBR argues that Collins’ actions have made the situation worse, with what little experience there was on the ACC board being eliminated – see: Collins takes body blow over Pullar affair.
Not everyone is a Pullar fan, of course. Cameron Slater has done his own analysis which he says shows Pullar actually gave ACC very little time to respond to her complaints see: ACC Privacy Breach – Timeline of a poker player and ACC Privacy Breach Overview - What was sent to Bronwyn Pullar.
However, as is usual in these cases, it’s not the initial error that is crucial, but the lack of response and attempts to cover-up and silence critics that do the real damage.
But the most interesting response to the report has been that of Minister Judith Collins’ refusing to go on TV3’s Campbell Live, but instead uploaded a statement to YouTube. This resulted in John Campbell producing an irreverent but also serious examination of the Minister’s new foray into YouTube – watch the video here.
- Like the record numbers of Kiwis leaving for Australia (see Claire Trevett’s Tables are turned on Key), the MSD report showing income inequality is at its highest ever level, is very hard for the Government to spin – see: TVNZ’s Gap between rich and poor highest ever, report shows and Michelle Cooke’s Poor get poorer, inequality reigns – survey. But one academic blogger asks: Where’s the opposition?.
- ‘Doomed to fail’ is probably the best way to describe Kiwirail’s legal attempt to block Radio New Zealand from reporting a leaked internal report that says the company faces tough times in coming years – see RNZ’s Injunction eased on RNZ over KiwiRail report. We shouldn’t blame the judge who granted the interim injunction says Steven Price, but he is concerned that it may drag out for weeks – see: Railing against illegal disclosure. Kiwirail’s injunction will just increase public awareness of the report, which will likely end up on the internet in spite of any court orders says David Farrar – see: Kiwirail.
- The west simply cannot defeat the Taleban argues Chris Trotter in Dangerous battle against Taleban 'ghosts', but Robert Patman of the University of Otago says the aim for some time has been to lessen their influence in a post-war Afghanistan, and that is one of the Moral, diplomatic and strategic reasons to stay.
- Upsetting the Hungarians will not help us with another international campaign – see Newswire’s Insults won't help get UN seat – Goff, while another John Key comment has come under sustained attack from a significant sector of our health system – see Claire Trevett’s PM's 'misguided' euthanasia views anger palliative care specialists.
- Never mind ‘cutting and running’ from the Taleban – what about waving the white flag to the Booze Barons? The Herald Editorial is very critical of what it says is a clear backdown in the face of lobbyists – see: Govt's cave-in on alcopops is shameful. Ex-MP Sue Kedgley writes that the industry reps were not afraid of making threats to a select committee considering the issue last year – see: Booze industry win, means youths suffer.
- We should always be wary when the word ‘crisis’ is used to justify a policy change, and Eric Crampton questions the level of harm alcohol is claimed to cause, including the refusal to acknowledge that alcohol actually has some positive health benefits – see: Our drinking culture - is it really a crisis?.
- Even if tobacco companies win the fight over plain packaging they will still lose argues today’s Press editorial – see: 'Spooked' by plain packaging for tobacco.
- The MMP review could result in National’s popularity with women voters falling even further says Gordon Campbell – see: Mind the widening gender voting gap. And on the issue of the review process, Andrew Geddis asks: Is someone trying to game the MMP review?.
- Although we all may be wincing as we fill up at the petrol pumps, we are actually paying less than we did thirty years ago, particularly when increased fuel efficiency is taken into account – see: Matthew Theunissen’s Petrol today still cheaper than in 1980s.
- For a review of the week in parliamentary politics, see Jane Clifton’s What you already know won’t hurt “us”, and also her take on what’s happening in Labour: Will there be a Labour leadership coup?.
- Finally, TV3’s Cambell Live is skewered by John Drinnan for their ongoing promotion of Griffin's Choco-ade campaign – see: Bloggers want PR to pay.
John Armstrong (Herald): Pullar has done us a huge favour
Phil Kitchin (Stuff): Culture of fear at ACC
Adam Bennett (Herald): ACC privacy report may lead to wider overhaul
Dom Post: Editorial: ACC incompetence no laughing matter
Danya Levy (Stuff): Political consensus needed on ACC
Lloyd Burr and Patrick Gower (TV3): ACC slammed in independent report
Simon Bradwell (TVNZ): ACC breach: Bronwyn Pullar did Kiwis 'a service'
TV3: Campbell Live - ACC report authors outline 'systemic failures'
Adam Bennett (Herald): ACC privacy report background
Andrea Vance (Stuff): ACC failed to act until it was too late
Andrea Vance (Stuff): ACC board rapped by auditor-general
Adam Bennett and Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Report: Systemic weaknesses at ACC
Jock Anderson (NBR): Collins takes body blow over Pullar affair
Grant Duncan (Policy matters):The ACC Blunder-Bus
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The ACC reports
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): Speaking of ACC
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): ACC Privacy Breach – Timeline of a poker player
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): ACC Privacy Breach Overview - What was sent to Bronwyn Pullar
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): ACC Privacy Breach – Pullar leans on Board
Simon Bradwell (TVNZ): Notes on a privacy scandal
Michelle Cooke (Stuff): Poor get poorer, inequality reigns - survey
Corin Dann (TVNZ): Warnings for Government in inequality report
Philip Ferguson (Redline): Pay and income gaps continue to widen – where’s the opposition?
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On inequality, and God’s dislike for Republicans
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): Excerpts from the MSD Household Incomes Report
Audrey Young (Herald): Labour raises doubts over rail
Newswire: KiwiRail accused of gagging media
Steven Price (Media Law Journal): Railing against illegal disclosure
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Kiwirail
NZ in Afghanistan
Chris Trotter (Taranaki Daily News): Dangerous battle against Taleban 'ghosts'
Stacey Kirk (Stuff): Key's troops claims incorrect: Hungarian defence minister
Robert Patman (ODT): Moral, diplomatic and strategic reasons to stay
Newswire: Hungarian minister slams Key's comments
Joelle Dally (Stuff): Key to attend soldiers' memorial
Adrian Taylor (TV3): John Key stands by euthanasia comments
Bronwyn Torrie (Stuff): PM's euthanasia claim sparks anger
Claire Trevett (Herald): PM's 'misguided' euthanasia views anger palliative care specialists
Hana Garrett-Walker (Herald): Palliative Care appalled by Key's euthanasia statement
Jenny Suo (TV3): John Key attacked over euthanasia comments
Newstalk ZB: PM 'broadly supports' voluntary euthanasia
Nicholas Jones (Herald): Backlash over Govt backdown on RTDs
Isaac Davison and Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): NZ First calls alcopop back-down irresponsible
Danya Levy and John Hartevelt (Stuff): Government criticised for dropping RTD liquor ban
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Some sense on RTDs
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On how lobbying works
Sue Kedgley (Dom Post): Booze industry win, means youths suffer
Eric Crampton (Press): Our drinking culture - is it really a crisis?
Eric Crampton (Offsetting Behaviour): A symposium, of sorts
David Farrar (Herald): Fisking the Herald editorial
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): Liquor lobbyists crack down on Justice Minister
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): Big Tobacco's New Best Friend
Carla Penman (Stuff): Victoria University to go smokefree
Andrew Geddis (Pundit): Is someone trying to game the MMP review?
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Less proportional, more waste, more gaming
Jane Clifton (Listener): Will there be a Labour leadership coup?
Jane Clifton (Listener): What you already know won’t hurt “us”
Jane Clifton (Stuff): Minister plays the Sergeant Schultz card
Claire Trevett (Herald): Tables are turned on Key
Gordon Campbell (Wellingtonian): Mind the widening gender voting gap
John Drinnan (Herald): Bloggers want PR to pay
Lyn Humphreys and Kirsty McMurray (Stuff); CYF pays out millions for sex abuse
The Press: Editorial: Gaps in child safety
Matthew Theunissen (Herald): Petrol today still cheaper than in 1980s
Wayne Thompson (Herald): Rangitoto Island could get name change
Listener: Two minutes with: Louisa Wall
Stuff: Today in politics: Friday, August 24