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Sir Geoffrey Palmer


Sir Geoffrey Palmer was admitted as a solicitor in 1965 and to the bar in 1966 and practised in Wellington with O'Flynn and Christie before taking up a British Commonwealth Fellowship to the University of Chicago where he graduated JD cum laude in 1967. He was a law professor in the United States and New Zealand for some years before entering politics as the MP for Christchurch Central in 1979. In Parliament he held the offices of Attorney-General, Minister of Justice, Leader of the House, Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister.

On leaving politics in 1990 he was a law professor at the University of Iowa and the Victoria University of Wellington. In 1994 he became a Foundation Partner of Chen & Palmer Public Law Specialists where he remained until 2005 when he was appointed President of the Law Commission. He has appeared extensively in the superior courts including the Privy Council.

He is a member of the Her Majesty's Privy Council, was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1991 and was made an honorary companion to the Order of Australia the same year. He was made a member of the Global 500 Roll of Honour by the United Nations Environment Programme. He holds three honorary doctorates. He was elected a member of the American Law Institute and is a Member of the American Association of International Law.

After leaving the Law Commission at the end of 2010 he chaired the Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident for the United Nations in New York. Currently he has been chairing the Wellington Regional Local Government Review Panel. He also chaired the Legislation Advisory Committee from 2005 to 2011.


For eight years he was New Zealand's Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission. Sir Geoffrey is a Distinguished Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Public Law and the Law Faculty at the Victoria University of Wellington. He hold honorary doctorates from three universities.He was made a Senior Counsel in 2008 and practices as a barrister. 

Abstract of Paper
This paper will examine the original blueprint for accident compensation in New Zealand contained in the 1967 Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry "Compensation for Personal Injury in New Zealand" and compare it with with subsequent developments. In particular there will be an analysis of the policy decisions relating to administration. There will also be some attention to the source of funds recommended for the scheme and the subsequent treatment of that topic. There will also be some attempt to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of what has been achieved.



Associate Professor Grant Duncan

Associate Professor Grant Duncan teaches in the politics programme at Massey University, based on the Albany campus, Auckland. His main areas of teaching are public policy and political theory. Over the last two decades, Grant has been engaged in analysis of and public comment on ACC legislation and policy, and he has been a regular contributor to conferences and media debate on this subject.

Abstract of Organisational Culture.


Since the ACC hit the headlines earlier this year, due largely to revelations about a major privacy breach, a number of key governance and management figures have departed the organisation, the Minister for ACC has made strong comments about the need for 'culture change' within the organisation, and formal inquiries have been undertaken by the Privacy Commission and the Office of the Auditor-General. These reports identified shortcomings in ACC's organisational practices and made many useful recommendations. My aim in this paper, however, is not to re-examine the findings of these investigations or to point the finger at anyone; but rather to reflect on the kind of 'culture' that the public deserve to see at ACC, and to ask what principles the organisation can apply in order to regain public confidence.


The aim needs to be more than just getting ACC out of the headlines. Fortunately, we have in the Woodhouse Report and the Code of ACC Claimants' Rights a ready-made set of basic principles to get us started. Furthermore, there are simple principles of quality assurance that can help to ensure that service delivery reaches a high standard, while also managing the scheme within reasonable financial bounds and in compliance with the law.


We should also ask, however, if there are provisions within the ACC Act itself that could be amended by Parliament to clarify issues that have become a source of public dissatisfaction with the scheme and its delivery. All of these goals are achievable, provided the political will is there to achieve them, the leadership at top governance and management levels sets the right example, and the systems are in place to guide performance.

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