You'll have heard it reported that National have finally announced a policy that distinguishes the from Labour: if elected, they'll be privatising that bloated bureaucracy ACC.
Sadly, those reports are wholly incorrect. 'Privatise' means "to sell off; to denationalise; to transfer to private ownership."
Unfortunately, National hasn't pledged to privatise ACC at all ... all they've said is that they're willing to open it to competition.
And they haven't even promised to do that; all that they've promised to do is investigate the possibility of opening up ACC to competition ... and this investigation will apparently take three years.
So the reports of a spine are premature. They're timid even in their timidity.
The latest policy is still replete with timidity. There's no sign that what is effectively a payroll tax on all employers would be removed -- a payroll tax that is essentially a top-up to the welfare system. There's no sign that the socialised 'all care, no responsibility' situation would be completely removed. There's no sign that the compulsion element of workplace insurance would be removed. There's no sign that victims of incompetence would be able to hold those responsible for their injuries accountable -- incompetence would still be socialised.
Sure, removing ACC's monopoly over workplace insurance would see premiums plummet, just as they did in the late nineties when the ACC's monopoly was last removed -- and as premiums plummeted so too did the number of workplace accidents, just as rehabilitation and 'customer care' improved markedly.
Safe employers would no longer need to subsidise the unsafe to the extent they do now, but compulsion is not going to be removed, employers will still be subsidising sporting injuries and the like, and being able to sue those responsible for your injuries will still be illegal.
As long as the ethic of 'no responsibility' and the element of compulsion remains, then even if competition were removed we'd still be the only place in the world with a system that socialises incompetence.
NB: It's worth reminding yourself that the only place in the world that has compulsory 'no fault' insurance is New Zealand. That's no accident. No one else wants it.
The shriller opponents of so-called 'no fault insurance' being removed, which it isn't, point to places like the US where the ability to sue those responsible for injuring you has led to outrageous payouts and the enrichment of that class of lawyers known as ambulance chasers.
But as David Littel points out in The Objective Standard, the outrageous payouts and the rewards for ambulance chasing -- the serious problems with the US system -- are not a problem of too much freedom but too little. American law has become so poisoned by the destructive doctrine of "vicarious liability" and the use of law to achieve social ends instead of corrective justice, that American tort law can now only be described as a weapon of injustice.
And in any case, it's not what's proposed for New Zealand.
UPDATE: Says Liberty Scott:
[When] John Key says National will "investigate" opening the ACC Work Account to competition, you have to wonder why it is so insecure about a policy that it implemented, whilst a minority government, in 1999. A policy Labour gleefully repealed, with legislations overriding commercially negotiated contracts and effectively banning the private sector from providing ACC services that it had offered. Why isn't it even mentioning the ACC Motor Vehicle Account, which at the time was in the "investigate opening to competition mode"? I mean seriously, why is providing competition to a government monopoly something that so frightens John Key?
He's right, you know.