Fran O’Sullivan discusses the stand-over tactics of Bronwyn Pullar and Michelle Boag.
Many New Zealanders will be disgusted at the clear suggestion Pullar was able to point to a well-connected bunch of National Party insiders, including Key himself, to try to screw a $14 million settlement from Sovereign Insurance for the damage she suffered in a cycle accident a decade ago.
Most people would not be able to tally up 28 well-connected names to champion their cause, let alone such influential people as Key, former National Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley, Sir Selwyn Cushing – a former National Party fundraiser – and former minister Wayne Mapp.
They were among those Pullar yesterday tried to explain were simply “a list of known people who were aware of my dispute with the insurer, and who the insurer may encounter in the course of their business”.
Anyone in the commercial world would regard the provision of such a list as an undue attempt to exert influence. It carries with it an implicit message of “don’t mess with me because I have friends in high places”.
Yet Pullar maintains the list was provided simply “in the context of us entering into negotiations to reach a confidential settlement. Provision of this list was necessary in case the insurer subsequently faced questions from these parties who had knowledge of the dispute”.
Frankly this is the deluded spin of a person whose own credibility has been shot to hell by Key’s denial that he was ever part of her web of influence.
Fran then shows up the ineptitude of Michelle Boag when it comes to trying stand-over tactics on ‘Crusher’ Collins:
Collins clearly pricked a nerve when she included the former National Party president among those who could have leaked the email.
The minister was simply pointing out those who had the email; herself, two ACC players and Boag.
But Boag did not engage her brain before telling the Herald her email was sent to Collins in the expectation it would not be sent to anyone else.
“I sent it to the minister only … and I asked whether it was a secure email address before I sent it,” the Herald reported, going on to quote Boag as saying, “When you can’t send a communication to a Government minister without fearing that the privacy of that communication is going to be breached, that’s very, very dangerous”.
In fact, Boag had earlier phoned Collins to say she had some information on the privacy leaks. Collins told her any communication would have to be forwarded to ACC.
Yet Boag went on to email Collins at her parliamentary address. The email was copied to one of the ACC Minister’s senior staffers.
It’s hardly surprising Collins – via her staffer – made sure ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart and ACC chairman John Judge were sent copies of the email, given Boag’s insistence the privacy breach should be investigated for the “sake of your ministry, your board and your CEO”.
To her credit, Collins did not let herself get drawn into the behind-scenes influence game.