Further to my post about duplicity and incompetence in the govt, Rod Oram's thoughtfully packaged up into one article the various reasons why National's scaremongering over ACC is down to either duplicity or incompetence (or "panicking or politicking," as he puts it). It's well worth a read, and yes, the suspicions it invites re National's lack of interest in the public good are well justified.
Adolf points out in a post below that National aren't planning to privatise ACC, merely have it "opened up to the discipline of genuine competition," which is true enough - obviously you can't privatise it because there's no conceivable way to make a profit from the unfunded part. Open slather for the rest of it, though.
The left are rightly suspicious of this blather about opening ACC to the discipline of competition, because its potential competitors seem to be less efficient than ACC. Oram's figures show employer costs of ACC at $0.94 per $100 of payroll in NZ compared to an average of $1.73 in Aus (at time of measurement), and ACC's admin costs at 20% of funding compared to 25% in Aus. No point in looking to those guys to teach ACC anything about efficiency, then.
So what is it all about? Why try and talk ACC down? The bottom line is, National is the party of the employers and represents their interests. And for all that they're less efficient than ACC, Aussie insurance companies can still undercut ACC pretty easily on price, which is what matters to the employer. How can a less-efficient private sector company undercut ACC on price, you ask? Simple enough: provide poorer coverage and avoid paying out whenever the fine print allows, which will be very often if your lawyers are worth what you pay them. That's certainly how it worked last time National was in power. My employer back in 1999 opted for private insurance cover because it was cheaper than ACC. Those reduced costs came at the expense of our coverage for workplace accidents, but there was no particular reason for the employer to give a shit either way about that.
That's what it's all about for John Key in this, and don't forget it. I'm picking duplicity over incompetence on this one.