Pressure mounts

The media smell blood, and not without some justification, there is a perfect storm of Michelle Boag, Nick Smith and Winston Peters:

Duncan Garner blogs:

Winston Peters alleged yesterday that there’s more to this, hinting that the relationship with Bronwyn Pullar may go deeper than just knowing each other through the National Party.

Smith said “his private life is his private life”. What does that mean? Was he in a relationship at some stage with her?

If he was then that surely makes this worse.

So this morning John Key should haul Smith into his office and ask him the following;

  1. What was the nature of his relationship with Pullar?
  2. Was it more than a friendship?

If the answer is yes – Smith must go on the spot.

If the answer is no, he must still go. Ministers should NEVER use their position to go into bat for their friends.

It is the first rule of being a Minister.

Smith knows the rules. He’s been here for 20 years. He’s not a junior Minister. We rarely use the word corruption in NZ. But in my opinion it’s a corrupt practice to use your Ministerial powers and warrant to advance the interests of a friend.

Duncan is dead right here. Anyone who has friends who are ministers or MPs, if they are indeed a friend, should never place their friend in a position that could cause potential embarrassment.

Tracy Watkins isn’t pulling any punches either and her wording is very emphatic:

John Key’s refusal to cut Nick Smith loose over revelations that he intervened in a close friend’s long-running battle with ACC while still ACC minister will come back to haunt him.

Yesterday, Winston Peters labelled it cronyism, a shabby little deal and a case of National ministers looking after their mates – and the bad news for Mr Key is that it looks like all those things and worse.

Presumably Dr Smith would have been gone by lunchtime had he still been ACC minister when his letter on a ministerial letterhead supporting the claim of National Party activist Bronwyn Pullar emerged.

That may have been the reason Mr Key failed to move against him yesterday, even as the story over whether or not the letter was on a ministerial letterhead changed. But it doesn’t lessen the size of Dr Smith’s error or the scale of his misjudgment.

The NZ Herald editorial is scathing:

Nick Smith is one of the Government’s more experienced ministers. It is staggering that he saw fit to write in support of a friend’s ACC claim when he was the minister in charge of the corporation. His judgment plainly deserted him that day and it deserted him again when the letter – which was sent to medical assessors – came to light this week.

“Ministers still have friends,” he said, “and providing there is no inappropriate influence, it is quite appropriate for them to provide information or evidence for medical assessments and other legal processes.”

It is not “appropriate” for them to do any such thing when the medical assessments and legal processes involve the agency that must answer to the minister.

Nick Smith is a political corpse…he is starting to stink up the joint.

There is a valuable lesson though in all of this…having any association with Michelle Boag only ends in disaster.


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  • Have to agree with the last sentence there Cam.
    Could be a lesson for our Local Political boys and girls as they seek re-election next yearI mentioned in another post that Nick Smith should cop a Censure for his stupidity. However I did mention if Winston did get something more “relevant” or sticking my view would change – most likely to a sacking. If Nick Smith has brought his boss and the Government into disrepute then arguably its time to go.

  • Salacious T Crumb

    “Nick Smith is a political corpse”

    And Winston Peters is the scavenging hyena.

  • ConwayCaptain

    The tumbrils are being readied for use and Madame De Farge et les Tricotesses are getting their seats ready around Madame La Guillotine.

    Knit one, Purl one, drop one THUNK!!

  • Evan Johnson

    Yes Cameron, Michelle Boag has a history of attracting chaos .. at some stage you might remind us of your favourite highlights.  Start with the finances of that former husband or the winebox or wherever you choose.  Her track record is something that Winston Peters probably knows better than anyone else probably.  This crisis is tailor made for Winston!

    I am still intrigued by the 6,700 names “accidentally” sent to Bronwyn Pullar.  Another blogger Ben thinks it must have been an inside job.  Wow!  Are we to believe that some ACC insider sent this information to Bronwyn Pullar to use as a basis for blackmail?  How could this be?

    The case has the adjective “bizarre” written all over it.

    BTW from the leaked emails I can see Smith and Pullar are two of a kind.

    • ConwayCaptain

      I Beleive she was also involved with that HR firm Millenium that gave us the dodgy Director of the Defence Scientific Establishment.

      With one ph call I could have uncovered him  He said he wass ex SBS,  Have a friend who is a rtd C/Sgt SBS.

  • joe bloggs

    I hate to follow the sheeple in the media but I’m inclined to agree. 

    Probity can be a defining distinction between left and right – and Phil Heatley demonstrated this to perfection when he stood down over questions about two bottles of wine on his expense account. Heatley’s actions took the sting out of the leftards and gave them nothing to criticise. 

    Look at the contrast between Heatley and Philip Field for example.

    I think it behoves Smith to take a hit on the chin and  stand down voluntarily for the good of the party. 

    As for Boag and Pullar –  may they rot in hell for their shabby opportunism

  • Auto_immune

    The relative inaction from John Key and Nick Smith is odd.  I’d imagine that if Nick Smith offered his resignation publicly, John Key would have no choice but to accept it.  But they seem intent on waiting it out.  Maybe they think the public’s support of Local Government reforms will help them weather the storms.

  • Fozzie

    Smith said “his private life is his private life”. What does that mean? Was he in a relationship at some stage with her?

    Therein lies Nicky’s problem ………  with Winston on his trail he should be afraid – very afraid ….

  • thor42

    Key should get this over and done with NOW.
    Delaying just makes him look like an impotent cowardly fool.
    It’s not as if Smith is irreplaceable. Heck, damned near ANYONE could do his portfolios.
    Dump him, Key – just DO IT.  

  • Mully

    I wondered why Smith sent the letter, being wildly inappropriate. If he was dipping his wick at some point, that makes more sense.

  • Symgardiner

    This is what the opposition need to do. Stop attacking John Key and line up some of the longer term ministers who probably all have some skeletons. Its dangerous because who knows what skeletons will be exposed in retaliation. 
    What’s sad is that it is National “insiders” doing their own team.

    • Evan Johnson

      Not even Cameron (Whaleoil) himself is being as charitable as you Symgardiner.  Of course Oppositions attack Prime Ministers because Prime Ministers win or lose elections.  The longer term ministers will get their share just like Nick Smith right now.

  • Symgardiner

    Its also fascinating that this all happens when Nick Smith lines up local government for change. I wonder whose turf is being threatened?

  • Bunswalla

    Has nobody picked up how telling it is that it’s not the “Leader of the Opposition” sticking the boot in, even though it’s his job and responsibility?  Shearer’s been completely upstaged by Winston, even when handed a golden opportunity to change the subject from Finland.

    • Evan Johnson

      Winston is always prepared to go a step further.  He uses his legal fluency to telling effect.  And he can throw “sex” into the argument and reinforce his standing of about 7% in the polls.  

      For Labour, Andrew Little has been doing a superb job, to highlight the real issues here.

      • Jester

        “For Labour, Andrew Little has been doing a superb job”

        Nek Minute!!!

  • Evan Johnson

    The role of Judith Collins is interesting here.  Seems like she outed Nick Smith and Michelle Boag – inadvertently or deliberately.  Either way, she may have killed two birds with just one stone!

  • Anonymouscoward

    I have an acquaintance who was knocked of a bicycle in an accident that sounds similar to Ms Pullar’s.

    The accident left him with an incurable intellectual handicap that meant he was no longer able to work.

    The long term outcome of his dealings with ACC was in my opinion miserable.

    If a friend or family member suffers a similar fate and you have advocacy skills I suggest you do a “Michelle Boag”, step forward and offer your help

  • AnonWgtn

    Smith has performed an error of judgement. Haven’t we all.
    Not a Taito Philip Field but a Lianne Dalziel – suspension is called for.

    • Evan Johnson

      Silly silly – resignation if you please!  
      This is more like Duncan McIntyre and the Marginal Lands case!”  During the Muldoon era, the first political scandals of a financial nature also emerged. I remember the Fitzgerald Loans Affair back in 1980 where it was alleged that Lands Minister Duncan McIntyre and another Cabinet colleague Venn Young had applied undue pressure on the Marginal Lands Board to provide finance to McIntyre’s daughter and son-in-law Audrey and Jim Fitzgerald. The allegations of impropriety were dismissed by the ensuing Royal Commission but McIntyre’s and Young’s actions were deemed ‘unwise’.  “

  • Evan Johnson

    I am trying to find out what he is saying to the Media Conference at 1:45 pm.  Out before Parliament at 2:00 p.m.?  Unwilling to face Question Time?

    • SJ00

      Just confirmed on Radio Live.. he is gone.. resigned all his portfolios.

  • Evan Johnson

    Gerry Brownlee gets Minister of Local Government Role.  Gerry is the modern equivalent of Bill Birch.  Local Government needs a bulldozer, so one has been appointed!