PRICE ON ACC levies, tourists, and mo­tor­cy­clists

Will th­ese is­sues ever be sorted to ev­ery­one’s sat­is­fac­tion?

New Zealand Classic Car - - Prcie On - By Greg Price

Re­cently, a friend hap­pened to men­tion that he had heard talk of a pro­posal to ratchet up Ac­ci­dent Com­pen­sa­tion Cor­po­ra­tion (ACC) levies yet again for mo­tor­cy­cles. I was caught com­pletely un­awares by this, as my reg­u­lar sources of this in­for­ma­tion (car and mo­tor­cy­cle clubs and lo­cal news­pa­pers) had omit­ted to bring it to my at­ten­tion. On ar­riv­ing home, I went straight onto the in­ter­net to dis­cover that, in fact, there had been a sug­ges­tion and/or pro­posal to crank up ACC levies to prop­erly re­flect the true costs of treat­ing the in­juries of mo­tor­cy­clists. An es­ti­ma­tion of the fee in­crease for larger bikes (those over 600cc) was $2114, while the fee with re­gard to mopeds would rise to $330. The back­ground to this was ap­par­ently ACC’S dis­cus­sion pa­per on its levy pro­pos­als for the 2016 to 2017 year, and, while this did not ac­tu­ally pro­pose any in­creases, there was nev­er­the­less the usual scep­ti­cism as to why the true costs were men­tioned in the first place. A bit like back in the Mul­doon era, when, just prior to the bud­get an­nounce­ments, there would be a me­dia leak as to just how much cig­a­rettes and booze were go­ing to rise by, and then, when the bud­get did ar­rive, the rises would be noth­ing like what had been ru­moured. There were still in­creases, of course, but no­body seemed to care as much. Clearly, that strat­egy still ex­ists within some govern­ment de­part­ments, and it would be my pick that there will be some in­creases in ACC levies for mo­tor­cy­clists for the 2016/’17 year but not, per­haps, like the fig­ures mooted.

Two-wheeled ar­gu­ment

While I am most re­luc­tant to ad­mit it, com­mon sense dic­tates that a mo­tor­cy­clist, ir­re­spec­tive of who is at fault, will al­ways come off se­cond best fol­low­ing an on-road mishap.

One of the ar­gu­ments that gets raised from time to time is that the ACC com­pen­sa­tion sys­tem is ‘no fault’, so, re­gard­less of who was to blame, ev­ery­one is cov­ered for their in­juries. The only prob­lem with that ar­gu­ment is that many driv­ers of ve­hi­cles in ac­ci­dents have not paid any ACC levies. This would also ap­ply to tourists. In ad­di­tion, and, to be scrupu­lously fair, if a mo­tor­cy­clist is rid­ing an un­reg­is­tered bike, then he/she has not paid any ACC levies ei­ther.

From my own re­search, I have es­tab­lished that one of the rea­sons that mo­tor­cy­clists fea­ture dis­pro­por­tion­ately in the crash sta­tis­tics is that those sta­tis­tics are skewed, as non-reg­is­tered all-ter­rain ve­hi­cles (ATVS) and quad bikes are not re­quired to be reg­is­tered, and, thus, there is no ACC levy col­lected, as they are not classed as mo­tor­cy­cles. So, when some­one is in­jured on an ATV or quad or, in­deed, killed, they be­come one of the all-en­com­pass­ing mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent sta­tis­tics!*

With re­gard to tourists, one of the ar­gu­ments that is of­ten aired in de­fence of tourists is that, na­tion­ally, they only fea­ture in a small per­cent­age of the ac­ci­dents (less than eight per cent). How­ever, sta­tis­tics can be — and of­ten are — ma­nip­u­lated to suit a par­tic­u­lar ar­gu­ment. For ex­am­ple, if one were to look at the tourist ac­ci­dent sta­tis­tics for the south­ern tourist ar­eas, such as the Queen­stown, Mil­ford Sound, and Te Anau area, that fig­ure rises sig­nif­i­cantly. Ac­cord­ing to the Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion (AA), be­tween 21 and 38 per cent of all crashes in the Queen­stown Lakes, South­land, Macken­zie, and Kaik­oura ar­eas in­volved an over­seas li­cence holder — a tourist — that’s be­tween a quar­ter and onethird of all crashes.

Wor­ry­ingly, I am start­ing to won­der if the ob­ject of this ex­er­cise (or any ex­er­cise re­lated to ACC levies) is to price (no pun in­tended) mo­tor­cy­clists off the road. The gen­eral me­dia does not help ei­ther — as an ex­am­ple, when cov­er­ing a re­cent fa­tal ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing a mo­tor­cy­clist, it was re­ported in such a way that drew at­ten­tion to the fact that the rider was a patched gang mem­ber, wear­ing a replica World War II Ger­man-style hel­met, who rode into the side of a turn­ing car con­tain­ing a fam­ily of four. The reporter ne­glected to men­tion that the fam­ily car’s driver had failed to give way and turned into the path of the mo­tor­cy­clist, who then col­lided with the side of that car — hav­ing nowhere to go. Had he been an ‘or­di­nary’ mo­tor­cy­clist, he would still have hit the turn­ing ve­hi­cle — but never let facts get in the way of an oth­er­wise good story!

Lis­ten up

Let’s be clear on one thing. As I have re­ported be­fore, tourism is New Zealand’s se­cond-big­gest in­come earner. There will be no re­stric­tions on the ac­tiv­i­ties of tourist driv­ers for the fore­see­able fu­ture nor will they be re­quired to make a greater con­tri­bu­tion to ACC.

But, just who are th­ese mo­tor­cy­clists who ride big bikes (and, in some cases, wear gang patches)? They are a small mi­nor­ity with no sig­nif­i­cant im­pact (other than in the neg­a­tive sense) on the New Zealand econ­omy, but they clearly have pots of money, given the cost of those big bikes, and, there­fore, can be milked dry un­til their wal­lets are empty and/or they choose not to ride a mo­tor­cy­cle any more. That’s typ­i­cal govern­ment-depart­ment think­ing.

Lis­ten up, peo­ple! There are so many vested-in­ter­est groups out there in­volved in ev­ery as­pect of our econ­omy that this is­sue will not be re­solved any time soon. As for me, I opted to de­crease the size of my over600cc mo­tor­cy­cle col­lec­tion, as I ob­jected to pay­ing ex­or­bi­tant ACC levies on ma­chines which just sat in the garage un­used for the most part. For oth­ers, I sus­pect the choice was an ex­emp­tion ap­pli­ca­tion and maybe the oc­ca­sional ‘un­law­ful’ ride. Logic sug­gests that a more fair and eq­ui­table sys­tem would be sim­i­lar to that uti­lized in the UK, which would al­low us to pur­chase reg­is­tra­tion with pro­por­tion­ate ACC levy com­po­nents for a shorter du­ra­tion — such as one day or more — and with­out the min­i­mum three-month ex­emp­tion pe­riod. Ar­guably, that would gen­er­ate greater com­pli­ance and, po­ten­tially, a re­al­is­tic amount of re­lated ACC levies. Food for thought?

Fail­ing that, ride safely!

*Quitea­part­fromtheac­clevy­por­tion in­fuel,off-road­bike­san­datvsare­cov­ered bytheearn­ers’and­workac­counts. Statis­tic­sused­to­cal­cu­late­mo­torve­hi­cle leviesare­only­base­donac­ci­dentsthatare fund­edthroughthe­mo­torve­hi­cleac­count, which­in­clude­sac­ci­dentsthat­in­volve mov­ing­mo­tor­cy­cleson­pub­li­croads—ed.

Af­ter putting you in the mood with this month’s fea­tures on the Fer­rari Tes­tarossa and Lam­borgh­ini Countach — can you iden­tify all 10 of th­ese su­per­cars?

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