O’Sullivan on Boag

NZ Herald

Fran O’Sullivan lays a lot of the blame for Bronwyn Pullar’s current predicament fairly and squarely at the feet of Michelle Boag:

Thousands of ACC claimants have good reason to be incensed at the way former National Party insider Bronwyn Pullar and her “support friend” Michelle Boag allowed them to be used as leverage in a failed power play.

It is crystal clear that Pullar – with Boag’s implicit agreement – retained the confidential ACC records file she was accidentally sent last August. This file is said to have contained details of claims filed by 6700 individuals among them 250 claims from injuries resulting from sexual abuse or sexual assault.

Many claimants will be incandescent with rage at the obvious – even if accidental – breach of privacy.

But even though Pullar maintains she has been fighting a decade-long battle to screw a better deal out of ACC and has alleged her own privacy was breached by officials on 45 separate occasions, she did not immediately alert the corporation that the file had turned up in her inbox.

Nor did she return the file or delete it from her own email cache. (It became public when the file turned up in an investigative reporter’s hands six months later).

Boag knew this when she agreed to go with Pullar as her “support friend” to an ACC meeting last December. The file quickly became a point of contention.

I pointed this out yesterday…that as a support person for a person with a head injury it was incumbent on her to act in the claimant’s best interests, not actually egg her on toward destruction.

It was alleged that ACC offered Pullar two years’ payments so she could re-establish her business on the condition the file was returned. ACC denies this.

But in an email to ACC Minister Judith Collins last week, Boag maintained a verbal agreement was discussed after she and Pullar urged an investigation of the privacy breach “for the sake of your ministry, your board, your CEO”.

The Boag email is reported to have said it was “verbally agreed” the information would be returned “on agreement on the way forward”.

Boag went on to say ACC should deal with the privacy breach internally – “I am a supporter of this Government and I also call [former ACC minister] Nick Smith a friend. I don’t want him embarrassed. I have friends on the ACC.”

Anyone who can’t see the implicit threats delivered up toward Judith Collins and to the ACC board in Boag’s comments is out of their head. What we have seen this week probably wasn’t what Michelle Boag was thinking would happen when she made those threats.

Any Cabinet minister sitting in “The Crusher’s” shoes – particularly a politician with as strong an instinct for self-preservation as Collins has – would quickly have worked out the impact of Boag’s email was they were also likely to be dragged into the same mud-pool which subsequently swallowed Nick Smith.

The ACC Minister would quickly have reached the conclusion that all Boag’s email did was to compromise her.

Hence she sent it to the ACC .

Collins’ fingerprints will not be directly attached to the copy of the Boag email that was later leaked to the Herald on Sunday.

Michelle Boag threatened the wrong person, a lawyer and all round tough nut. She brooks none of the stand over tactics that Boag is so accomplished at.

Pullar is currently in the public spotlight. But a great deal of the blame for this fiasco has to be put at Boag’s door.

A political “hard ass” of the first order, her style is to get extremely aggressive when cornered. Hence her fury at finding out from the Herald on Sunday that her email had been leaked. What did she expect?

A more skilful operator would have insisted that Pullar return the file before the December meeting so there could never be any suggestion that the pair were trying to blackmail ACC into dishing out more benefits.

But Boag’s approach is clumsy.

Most bullies are clumsy, they prefer aggression to nuance. It eventually comes unstuck when just one person isn’t prepared to put up with their antics any longer.

Fran O’Sullivan then lay out the reverse midas, everything Boag touches turns to crap, touch of Michelle Boag:

I challenge anyone to find for me a single good headline for National to have ever some from the actions, machinations and intimidation of Michelle Boag.


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  • Troy

    Boag has always been a bully, she’s known for it, and lives up to the title.  I sincerely hope she gets dealt to in some form over the coming weeks as more information about her role comes to light.

  • Roland S

    What is truly amazing is that Michelle Boag gets away with it over and over again and just moves to another business entity – but possibly she has gone too far this time and her reign of terror and intimidation is OVER!    She must realise that she is the maker of her own demise.

  • BJ

    No one in this saga has clean hands is my guess – and an enquiry may never get to the truth of the matter.  It is going to be a matter of ‘he said’ ‘she said’ ‘we said’ ‘they said’. Never mind the origins as we think we know it – what came about was a situation that trapped various parties into trying to cover their own arse such that they were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t.  

    I imagine it quite possible that the ACC Manager verbally offered enticements just to get the offending privacy breach tidied away and made sure they worded any correspondence in a generic manner so as not to incriminate themselves if things didn’t pan out.  Maybe the ACC senior manager saw an opportunity to make Bronwyn Pullar the fall person as maybe it was his error the information was sent to her – and not the case manager. Maybe Michelle Boag was there to try and facilitate the return of data without any fuss – perhaps treading carefully around a delicate Bronwyn.

      All the quotes in  everything that has been reported, are quite likely – as per usual – taken out of context and in context we might see that some peoples motives were quite different to how they’ve been portrayed.

  • Fozzie

    When Boag delivers for the National Party – which she has done over and over again – no one cares – as soon as she causes a bit of mayhem – which this style of behaviour is likely to illicit  on occasion she is ‘ public enemy no 1’  Me thinks all this beat up on Boag by wa’il has more to do with the tyre tracks she left on his dad,  than his detest of what has always been  standard  National Party operating proceedure.

    • Peter WIlson

      Me thinks all this beat up on Boag by wa’il

      Aha, the light begins to shine.

  • Rob F

    Boag is often credited with recruiting John Key to National, which would be a positive headline. Do you know if she was actively involved in that recruitment or merely president at that time and spun the story?

    • Grandstream

      At lunch on Friday, Steven Joyce credited Michelle Boag with getting him involved with the party post 2002 election ! A stunning recruit.

      • Peter WIlson

        Oops. So now we don’t like Steven Joyce, or John Key.

    • Except she didn’t recruit John Key. John Key has explained this in the article about him in the Herald.

  • Roland S

    Fairly well known that she is close mates with John Banks and Murray McCully but she got turfed from the national party presidency in 2002 and was last seen loitering around the ACT camp in December 2011 – I don’t think John Key would credit her with anything.

  • Travdog

    I’ll be interested to see if Boagie says anything on Q & A tomorrow morning, or whether Mr Holmes will even go there, controversy surrounding a panelist has to be a sticky situation.

    • Peter Wilson

      The wolves are circling, defending Boag/Pullar and attacking their enemies.

      First, Jane Clifton supports Pullar in a withering attack on Smith, and now O’Sullivan attacks Collins as the leaker of the email.

      • Did you read the same articles I did? If so you need remedial comprehension lessons.

  • Effyouwhale

    OSullivan dances on a pin. Crusher leaked story to Whale and Fisher. Crusher will learn the hard way, treachery agin her own team doesn’t pay.

  • Peter WIlson

    The only ADMITTED facts so far are:

    – ACC has breached client privacy – and been referred to the Privacy Commissioner
    – Nick Smith has acted disgracefully – and resigned

    Michelle Boag is definitely guilty though, of…umm..err…..well something….bad hair?

  • Vikingonmars

    ACC is giulty of mismanagement , bullying, and total lack of customer focus. They have no system that protects their Infomation and that was confirmed by another person today. That person was paid by ACC a reasonable sum of money to cover up their lousy performance.
    ACC is disfunctional, is the least customer focused organization that you could find. Its time it was cleaned out at the top.
    Pullar might make a good Director or CEO. Certainly has the experience and the will to have it put right.

    Anyone self employed who had jad to deal with ACC will know what a shithouse organization it really can be.

  • Peter WIlson

    Collins’ fingerprints will not be directly attached to the copy of the Boag email that was later leaked to the Herald on Sunday.

    More bad news for Boag accusers, I’m afraid.

    The problem now, of course, is that any innuendo or smear attempted on Boag/Pullar is a little tricky, bearing in mind the similar “accusation” by O’Sullivan on Collins.

    What I’m getting at is this type of comment…”I wouldn’t want him[Smith] embarrassed…” if we extrapolate that into a threat, then we must also accuse Collins of leaking the email.

  • Connie

    What I find off is the whole one or two years of guaranteed payment so Pullar could get her business back in order and return to work.
    Hello? She’s done absolutely nothing to suggest in this past decade she’s even tried to return to work. I suspect after that one or two year guaranteed payment we would all be back to square one again anyway.
    What is the maximum “income” per year on ACC? Hers sounds like it would have been a maximum rate.

    • Effyouwhale

      So blubber boy should get off his ass and get a job too then Connie ? Watch the games begin, blubber boy brings down collins for leaking to him.

      • Oh the hilarity…not a shred of proof, an anonymous coward smearing everyone in sight…

        Fuck off loser.