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Opposition welcomes ACC saga inquiry

Published: 4:37PM Wednesday April 04, 2012 Source: ONE News

The Auditor-General's announcement that she will be conducting an independent review into the ACC saga is being welcomed by opposition politicians.

Lyn Provost said today she has decided to "inquire into aspects of ACC's governance that will not be examined by the other investigations".

Several other bodies are also looking into the affair which has led to talk of cronyism inside the National Party, claims of defamation and the resignation of a Cabinet minister.

"John Key said no further investigation was needed. The Auditor General's decision shows he was wrong," Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said.

"The Auditor General's decision shows that there are important matters of public interest to do with the ACC saga that are not covered by the Privacy Commissioner or police inquiries."

Labour's ACC spokesman Andrew Little also welcomed the investigation, but said he hoped it would extend its scope even further.

"We note that while the terms of reference focus on the board's actions and their interaction with clients and staff, there is also a clause allowing the Auditor-General to look into 'any other matters' she considers desirable.

"Labour hopes that will include the behaviour of ministers who have been involved in this case."

Little said people need to be reassured they can trust ACC and that people with connections to the National Party do not get special treatment.

Anatomy of a saga

The case centres around dealings with ACC claimant and National party member Bronwyn Pullar, and her bid for compensation after a bicycle crash.

Former Minister Nick Smith resigned after it was discovered he had advocated for Pullar using his ministerial letterheads.

Current ACC Minister Judith Collins has threatened defamation action after comments made about a leaked email relating to the case.

Pullar was mistakenly sent confidential details about thousands of other claimants by email.

Prime Minister John Key has resisted calls for an independent inquiry, insisting a probe by the privacy commissioner and a possible police investigation, among others, will satisfy any concerns about the affair.

The Auditor-General's inquiry into ACC will examine:

  •  The policies and practices at ACC for managing risks relating to conflicts of interest, legal compliance, and communications between Board members and clients and staff;
  •  The policies and practices that apply when claimants personally contact Board members;
  •  How any matters relating to Pullar that came to the attention of the Board or individual Board members were dealt with; and
  •  Any other matters that the Auditor-General considers it desirable to report on.

Labour's ACC spokesman Andrew Little welcomed the investigation, but said he hoped it would extend its scope even further.

A report will be published when the inquiry is completed.