PRICE ON ACC levies, tourists, and motorcyclists
Will these issues ever be sorted to everyone’s satisfaction?
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.
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!
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?