Pass the barf bucket | The Jackal

21 Mar 2012

Pass the barf bucket

Today, reported:

The Minister for Local Government and then ACC minister yesterday apologised for writing a reference last July on ministerial letterhead for friend Bronwyn Pullar to use in her medical assessment for an ACC claim.

An apology is not enough, especially considering Nick Smith would have known that he was breaching his employment conditions as then Minister for ACC.

The question is what influence did Puller have on Smith to illicit the support letter from him and why would he risk his cushy job by writing a letter that was clearly designed to influence ACC?

According to an article in the NZ Herald today, Winston Peters had revealed that Smith and Puller's friendship was more than just platonic. Not only is Smith's position in jeopardy, it appears his three year marriage to Linley Newport could be on the rocks as well.

The political stakes couldn't be higher, with the National led coalitions one seat majority potentially in doubt. This could result in a hung parliament whereby National's big ticket policies such as asset sales would fail. It's no wonder then that John Key has decided to back the corrupt Smith:

Prime Minister John Key has rejected opposition calls for him to sack Smith, saying it was ''an error of judgment'' and he had not breached the Cabinet manual.

He has also said the letter had not appeared to have influenced ACC because Pullar was still unhappy with the support she received.

Wrong again Prime Minister. Blackmail is still a crime even if it is not successful. Likewise, undue influence breaches the Cabinet Manual 2008 (PDF), which states:

2.62 A conflict may arise if people close to a Minister, such as a Minister’s family, whānau, or close associates, might derive, or be perceived as deriving, some personal, financial, or other benefit from a decision or action by the Minister or the government. Ministers must therefore be careful not to use information they access in the course of their official activities in a way that might provide some special benefit to family members, whānau, or close associates.

2.63 Similarly, it may not be appropriate for Ministers to participate in decision making on matters affecting family members, whānau, or close associates; for example, by:

attempting to intercede on their behalf on some official matter;
proposing family members for appointments;
participating in decisions that will affect the financial position of a family member.

2.64 Public perception is a very important factor. If a conflict arises in relation to the interests of family, whānau, or close associates, Ministers should take appropriate action.

So there is a fundamental breach of the Cabinet Manual, which John Key would know if he'd bothered to read it. Let's hope the Auditor General can get to the bottom of what really happened.