New Zealand Politics

National’s Media Disaster – Blood in the house over ACC

As the ACC debacle stretches on the chances of the National Party retaining such a large lead  in the polls are slim. John Key continues to be the charismatic face of a party which could be described as about as easy to manage as 50 dogs on short leashes. It’s John that is barely holding the party in once piece in the public face, no one else.

The two most recent polls still have National slightly gaining, or at least holding their lead. But this can’t last. Behind that headline there is a shuffle going on that is benefitting the Green Party no end. The minor parties are getting no air time and Labour, despite a Putinesque-like new leader is nowhere to be seen. The only person braying for blood has been Winston, back yet again after a hiatus.

The media disaster that has been ACC must hit home at some point. We’ve lost a minister and have another one wandering about engaging lawyers at fifty paces. The actual issue remains unresolved, that being what exactly does ACC do to look after our privacy? On the face of it, not a lot, unless you happen to fall into their VIP category.

How does the public view this? Why is this such a media disaster? Simple.

1) There are over 1.25 million claims, all of a personal nature, that are made every year via ACC. That is patient, confidential information that you the average punter has a right to be kept secret. This clearly demonstrates that information is not actually that secret. In addition, why is that manager’s outside of a claims management process need to see this information as well?

2) The most sensitive of information is not safe. Clearly. Information relating to the Sensitive Claims aspect of ACC made it out into the public. That scares the public.

3) ACC has a reputation of a bullying company and organisation. The reality is that when you look at the stats they perform better, and are easier to deal with, other providers. But perception is reality and it was re-inforced by the Judith Collins not going on the attack once, but twice. First alleging the party who had received the information had tried to blackmail ACC and then a few days later dragging the lawyers into play over alleged defamation.

4) The government further reinforced that draconian and bullying perception that saw Nick Smith commit political-suicide and quit. Why? Has anyone figured that out? He wrote a letter support while he was ACC Minister on parliamentary letterhead? So? How many minister’s have done that before? This is a loss for National, whether you like Nick Smith’s politics or not, he was a hard worker and passionate. He got results.

5) The muttering and threats over the ACC Board involvement in this disaster have come too late and the cynics amongst us will recognise that this is a potential opportunity for National to replace the Board. Board’s are politically appointed in this country if you believe the cynics, this current ACC Board is not only a Labour construct it has also embarrassed the Minster. Good by Board. Good by John Judge at least.

6) The CEO of ACC didn’t appear to know what was going on. Embarrassing for him and the corporation. In the early days, despite his earnest attempts at trying to sort the issue out and having the courage to appear in front of the media, whatever early information that was given to him (and so the Board, and so the Minister) was not quite right.

This is a beautiful disaster that has the effect of undermining the National Party’s puritanical push for low corruption and “transparency.” This is about as transparent has a welder’s goggles. It’s cost a Minister, and I predict it will cost another one yet. The current Minister is running madly around Wellington engaging lawyers. The ACC themselves seem powerless to manage it with the entire issue taken out of their hands and given straight to the media and Minister.

This is a circus of ridculousness that shows the National Party’s ineptitude at a) identifying a political disaster and b) managing it appropriately. John Key has hidden from the entire issue in what must be some effort to reduce the mud sticking to his nice white suit. This wouldn’t be the first time. Let’s not forget the teapot saga.

Of course, none of this is over. We are on holidays again but the media hounds will return to this. What will the privacy commissioner say? What will the ACC audit uncover? Who will be sued by “The Crusher”? Will more blood flow? Will John step in? How many other clients will appear with similar complaints? Tune in for the next episode.

This is an epic fail on National’s part and will hurt them. John’s push toward a transparent state has taken a massive battering and it’s not over yet.


Categories: New Zealand Politics

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