PM defends not extending ACC to mentally traumatised terrorist attack victims

Jacinda Ardern defended the decision to not extend ACC cover to those mentally traumatised by the events in the Christchurch terrorist attack. 

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“We wanted to provide cover, we wanted to do it quickly,” so it was provided by WINZ, the Prime Minister said. Source: Breakfast

Instead, the Prime Minister said on TVNZ1's Breakfast, WINZ provided the support as the Government "wanted to provide cover, we wanted to do it quickly".

Ms Ardern said the Government were asked if they wished to provide support for those who were mentally traumatised by the terrorist attack.

“The answer was yes, the issue then became, what’s the best way to deliver that?"

Fifty-one people were killed in the March 15 mosque attacks. 

She said ACC put forward the option of an extension to cover, "because that cover doesn’t exist for anyone, it wasn’t just about the victims of March 15".

Ms Ardern said "such a significant change" could open up questions such as changes to levies and the level of consultation needed.

"It would take time. We wanted to provide cover, we wanted to do it quickly, ACC would not have been a quick option and it was a substantial change."

She said Work and Income were able to provide it instead. "They’re a bit more agile, a bit more discretion, they’ve done it before. We put together a package specifically that way to deal with the issue."

There had been criticism about the rejection of the Government to extend ACC to mentally traumatised victims. 

ACC expert and New Zealand Law Foundation Researcher Warren Forster said last week a briefing paper from ACC in the wake of the terrorist attacks indicated a proposal highlighting clear benefits at a low cost.

"If you look at what ACC's managed portfolios are, it’s not even .001 per cent of the return on investment each year. It is literally the cost of this particular group of people which everyone agrees needed our help," he said.