Clifton on Pullar

The Listener

Jane Clifton explains more fully those who should be avoided in official communications:

In the normal course of events, there are people and situations that politicians very quickly learn to avoid. These include anything to do with Scientology, fluoridation, abortion, the gun lobby and, broadly speaking, anybody who fixes them with a glittering eye à laThe Ancient Mariner. The latter is the trickiest category to steer clear of, because MPs’ electorate clinics are full of them. They are the walking wounded, typically having come out the wrong end of dealings with the Family Court, an insurance company, an ex-partner, Immigration New Zealand or – as is currently the hot button – the ACC.

We all know someone like this, because they “holdeth one of three” to tell their tale of woe. And we sympathise. We really do. But at some point in such people’s terrible journey, their world has become so small that their albatross has become everything to them. At this point, the only sensible, humane advice anyone can give them is to rule a line under the atrocity, pick up what’s left of their psyches and, as Helen Clark would say, Move On.

Which is only one of the reasons Nick Smith made a dopey, career-blighting mistake in respect of his friend Bronwyn Pullar – a woman who by her own admission in emails had become quite consumed by her albatross. When she badgered him for support in her battle to get accident compensation, he should have kept saying no. And not just for the reasons most of us would have had to say no: that her fight was narrowing her life-focus, that state agencies have disproportionate power over the individual and will always win, that possibly she wasn’t entitled to compo. He had this reason: he was the Minister in Charge of ACC at the time.


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  • thor42

    This was such a stupid thing for Smith to do that it wasn’t surprising that he was the Minister of Bullshit (sorry – “manmade climate change”).

  • Peter Wilson

    Clifton’s rationalising of Smith’s actions do little to change history: Smith made an appalling decision to misuse his ministerial position, and has paid the price.

    Looking at all the participants in this farce, Smith is the only guilty party so far, and has admitted such. Pullar deserves some sympathy, in light of her injuries, Boag is to be commended for her loyalty to a friend, and the “errors” of the ACC have yet to be determined.

    We’d do well to take Jane’s advice though, and move on. Let the Police and the Privacy commisioner determine what went so wrong at ACC.

  • Fergus

    Smith was guilty of making a mistake, a serious mistake, but still ONLY a mistake. Labour the meadia etc didn’t make this much hoo har over Mallards ASSAULT conviction!!!

    • Peter Wilson

      While your point of view is valid Fergus, I can’t agree with the rationale.

      Mallard’s dealing to Henare was a personal error of judgement, while Smith’s was a professional error, as a Minister of the Crown.

      It would be like your lawyer messing up a property transaction, costing you money, as opposed to him getting a drink driving conviction. Which would you be most forgiving over.

      That’s why, in this whole sorry fiasco, the blame lies purely with Smith and ACC, they’re the only ones that got paid while they were stuffing up!

      • Hagues

         Good point there Peter. A better comparison would be Labour defending Phillip Field’s continual deliberate abuse of his position and saying he was only guilty of helping his constituants.

      • Bunswalla

        It isn’t anything like your analogies at all. Smith’s was a personal error of judgement, he didn’t cost anyone any money, and what difference does it make if you’re being paid while you stuff up?

        It’s not like he mucked up any legislation or made a ruling that hurt someone – he wrote a letter in his personal capacity, and was foolish enough to print it on ministerial letterhead. That was his error.

      • Fergus

        BOLLOCKS peter it was a CRIMINAL act!!! By a person who sits in a parliament that makes the laws we mere citizens have to OBEY. So it is CORRUPTION of the highest order when one of them breaks these laws!!!

      • Fergus

         I was refering to Mallards assalt conviction>

  • Natalie

    The point is: we pay Cabinet Ministers the sharp end of a quarter million dollars every year not to make mistakes and not to go soft and do favours for people they know personally.

    By helping out an ex-lover, and that is obviously what she is, because Smith himself repeatedly referred to his current “wonderful wife” which is a giveaway, then he really has no defence.

    • Bunswalla

      Wow, talk about drawing a long bow. A man says his wife is wonderful and that proves 100% that he bonked Bronwyn Pullar.

      Did you notice he also said that he’d always been loyal to his wife and always would be?

      • Hagues

        Well that statement obviously applies to his current wife of only 3 years. Leaves a lot open for what happened before that.

      • Natalie

         Of course it means he had a relationship with Pullar.

        If the ACC claimant had been a man instead, and  Smith had written a letter for on Ministerial letterhead for him, do you think his public statements would have made any reference to his “wonderful wife”?

      • joe bloggs

        Oh frackin’ crap Gnatalie. You’re channelling Winston – throw dirt in every direction and hope it sticks…

        Got any proof of your sleazy innuendo? Or is it just your own “insightful” interpretation?

      • Adybombs

        If he did bonk Pullar that is yet another serious error of judgement

    • Fergus

      Nat…..IDIOT ,…becareful how much of winnies lies you pepeat…you are not covered by parliamentary privaledge!

  • Waiuku

    Smith had to go – should have gone when he converted to the Climate Change mumbo jumbo nonsense. All that has been exposed with his behaviour is his total lack of smarts, reading between the lines it seems to me that Smith let his “little head” do the thinking instead of using his “big head”in this case . Boag has finally been outed for the machiavellian character she is & Puller has tried to  play hard fast & loose & now the game is up. All three need to disappear under appropriate rocks & leave the world of NZ to keep rolling along.

    • Mike Smith

       RE ‘ Climate Change mumbo jumbo nonsense.’ Do you really mean that?

  • Steve P

    “The latter is the trickiest category to steer clear of, because MPs’ electorate clinics are full of them.
    They are the walking wounded…”
    Well perhaps if our MPs didn’t ignore these people in the first place then they wouldn’t end up in these awkward situations. If MPs’ electorate clinics are “full of them” – the “walking wounded” –  then maybe there are some problems that our MPs should be addressing…Isn’t that the whole point of electorate clinics? To find out what’s happening at the coal face?