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Independence Allowance Reality checks

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 06:37 PM

18 years on.

Do New Zealanders know just how small an amount that those whom are entitled to receive as an Independence Allowance for injuries?

These figures are appalling.

How much have they gone up by?

Parliamentary Debate


Tuesday, October 18, 1994
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LIANNE DALZIEL (Christchurch Central)
: I want to follow on from that member, in terms of the question of the independence allowance, because I think it does raise some absolutely critical issues. Over half of the people who claim the independence allowance get nothing, or they get just over $4 a week. That is unacceptable, and I think the Minister should respond to that.

The Minister knows the cases, because I have referred them to him over and over and over again. For a vicious sexual assault, the victim was paid $4 a week. The guy that perpetrated this act was charged with attempted murder, and the woman's independence allowance---what a joke---comes in the form of a cheque in the mail, a 3-monthly reminder of what happened that night. It is just appalling, and it continues to happen.

A young 6-year-old boy lost his eye as a result of a toy his mother gave him for Christmas. Not only does she have to suffer the trauma of recalling that it was her that went down to the Toy Warehouse and bought the plastic toy that was negligently assembled; of recalling her son on Christmas Day flinging the toy into the air and a piece flicking into his eye; of remembering for ever her child with his hand over his face with the blood pouring between his fingers, and that he will never have the sight in that eye---the eye was removed---but also an independence allowance of $4 a week. The allowance was taken off her, and she had to go to review to get it reinstated. She got the $4 a week reinstated.

The reason I am raising this is that it is all very well to say that we acknowledge there are problems with the scheme---of course, we have been saying that right from the outset---but when will the legislation be changed? Because, for every 3 months that goes by, my constituent is reminded of the events of that night; for every single day, the mother of the 6-year-old boy is reminded of what happened. In neither case were they at fault, in neither case did they ask for what happened, and in neither case did they contribute in any way, shape, or form, and they are abused again by this system.

In these estimates, in this year ahead of us, I ask the Minister when we can expect the changes that the people of New Zealand demand---and they are demanding those changes now. I have people who are on earnings-related compensation who, as the Minister knows, are in seasonal work or who have just started a job. They have absolutely no idea that they are going to end up with insufficient income to cover their commitments, because nobody told them. On the new accident compensation advertisements on television no one says: ``Look, by the way, if you've only been in your job for a short time, we're only going to give you 80 percent of your wages for 4 weeks. After the 4 weeks are up, you're back to 80 percent of what your overall earnings have been for the last 12 months.'' What happens if one has spent 8 months unemployed? What happens if one has spent 8 months overseas and one has just come back to New Zealand? Nobody tells people that they are not covered, that they have no entitlements.

I think the Minister should tell this House how much money the corporation is spending on this wonderful new advertising campaign, where they get people going on television and saying: ``Gee, ACC has been good to me.'' I can produce at least 10 people who disagree for every one person they put on television, and I know other members can do the same.

The CHAIRMAN: I was not going to interrupt the honourable member, but I will. We are not actually debating the Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Corporation itself. That is a Crown entity. We will debate the corporation in the State-owned enterprises debate later on. We are talking about the levies, the Crown payments. The member had been in order when dealing with the other matters, but I did not want her to debate too widely.

LIANNE DALZIEL: The question I want to ask the Minister is about the advice he is getting from the corporation in terms of the need to make urgent legislative and regulatory changes. The member for Eastern Hutt has already mentioned the need for regulatory change in a whole range of areas. The legislative changes are urgent, and I believe that the Minister should respond in this House.

The last area that I wanted to touch on---I know we only get a short time to raise these issues---is the question of medical misadventure, and the advice that he is getting from the corporation in relation to an ongoing discussion it is having with the Ministry of Health about the development of future coverage for medical misadventure. The mastectomies in Wanganui are an appalling indictment on a system that breaks down when everyone throws responsibility on to someone else. The Crown health enterprise says that it is all the responsibility of the Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Corporation. Corporation staff say: ``Well, we have procedures we have to follow under our Act. It takes 3 to 4 months to decide in a good, easy case whether there is a medical misadventure; it can take over 12 months otherwise.''
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