13 Jun 2012

Opposition calls for clean sweep of ACC board

10:50 am on 13 June 2012

Opposition parties are calling for a cleanout of the Accident Compensation Corporation board.

ACC Minister Judith Collins announced on Tuesday that ACC board chairman John Judge is to leave his position but the minister would not say whether the controversy over the corporation's dealings with claimant Bronwyn Pullar led to his three-year term not being renewed.

Mr Judge was appointed chairman in March 2009 for a three-year term and will take up a new role as ANZ National Bank chairman at the end of June.

Ms Collins says she had full confidence in Mr Judge's work on the corporation's finances but says she needs a chairperson who can change the current culture and deal with the serious privacy breaches of client information.

ACC has been embroiled in controversy over its dealings with Bronwyn Pullar who was mistakenly sent personal details about thousands of other clients in December last year.

The Privacy Commissioner is investigating privacy breaches at ACC, while the Auditor-General is looking at how the corporation manages risk.

The Green Party says the problems at ACC are so serious, staffing at all senior levels, including the board and management, should be reviewed.

Labour's ACC spokesperson Andrew Little says there won't be any significant culture change unless the whole board is replaced.

"John Judge has done what was asked of him by the previous minister Nick Smith and this Government.

"They wanted somebody who was going to run ACC focused entirely on on financial issues and cost cutting, and he has done that, but in doing that he has created a culture of penny pinching and of disentitlement."

Ms Collins says that while she is aware of claims about people having their ACC support removed unreasonably, no action can be taken unless individuals come forward.

She says anyone who feels they've been treated unfairly can go to Dispute Resolution Services

Ms Collins says she does still have serious concerns about some elements of client service, and the way clients' personal information is handled.

"I am disturbed by some of the inappropriate language used in some communications. Those are the sorts of things I want changed.

"One of my messages to (ACC) staff is I expect them to treat everybody's information as though it was their own or even more importantly their mother's."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says he does not see how the public can have any confidence in the remaining board.

"Over the last three years, and still, there are signficant leaks, which disrupts the public's confidence about significant privacy issues."

ACC Futures Coalition spokesperson and former board member Hazel Armstrong says the minister needs to show a commitment to changing the culture by appointing to the board people who represent workers rather than more people from the corporate sector.