When talking about raising the Accident Compensation Commission levies the Minister, Nick Smith, asks the question "If we want to preserve ACC, they are the sort of levies needed."
It's a good question which he, and others, have avoided answering. Do we really want to preserve the ACC? If there is a rational explanation for singling out one group of medically disadvantaged for special treatment then it's time we all found out what it is. Many New Zealanders take part in 'unsafe' activities; skiing, hang gliding, mountaineering, diving and to name but a few. What possible reason can there be for motorcycles to be singled out as a special case to have to pay for their 'insurance'?
The latest round of increases have been cunningly scaled back from the initial proposal so we can all feel grateful that that our protests have been heard. This does nothing to lessen my concerns about singling out groups of 'users', in this case motorcyclists, to pay for the costs of the system.
The present recession has seriously impacted many New Zealanders and continues to have a major impact, not just on wage and salary earners but also on those on fixed or investment derived incomes. Large scale increases, particularly on things like environmentally friendly, cheap transport alternatives, need to be avoided.
Perhaps the worst aspect is that the ACC is suggesting a one size fits all 'insurance' for motorcyclists based on band's of machine capacity. This simplistic approach makes no recognition of the relative risk of the rider and machine, something any private insurer would take into account. Clearly a 60 year old with a Sunday outing Harley-Davidson is a quite different safety proposition to a 16 year old on a 1000cc sports bike.
Surely we need to ask and answer the question 'how do we ensure that all disabled people get access to the same standard of care?' Why should the cause of the disability matter and more over why would we spend large sums of money on a department to assess if it's an accident or not?