The Dim-Post

March 22, 2012

Smith’s bad dream

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:25 am

I think Tracy Watkins is wrong when she claims:

The letter that sank Nick Smith’s career was nowhere near as damning as the one that Prime Minister John Key was prepared to let slide just a day earlier.

The second letter makes reference to two other National MPs disclosing a conflict of interest, which Smith fails to do, and he also omits to mention his relationship with Pullar.

But I suspect the decision to sack Smith was made when Winston Peters announced it was a sex scandal, and Smith then refused to comment on his private life, a development that tipped the balance against him.

It was an odd chain of events that led to this: Smith had a relationship with Pullar, who then devoted herself to a vendetta against ACC, a department Smith then became the Minister of, which then sent Pullar thousands of confidential case files (under circumstances that are still very murky), which Pullar evidently confronted Smith with in an attempt to reach a settlement.

The settlement obviously didn’t happen, so Pullar leaked the patient files to the media. Pullar’s name was leaked to the media as punishment, either by ACC or their new Minister, Judith Collins, and it’s not hard to guess which of the two is more likely to dish out this sort of punitive vengeance. Presumably Collins was unaware that Smith had intervened in Pullar’s case.


  1. John Armstrong pompously pronounces his verdict: “National’s image, ratings take big hit”

    Presumably he isn’t just making things up, so Mr. Armstrong must be privy to some sort of National Party over night polling data, as would have been John Key when he did his sudden volte-face in support for Dr. Smith.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 22, 2012 @ 7:09 am

  2. She ends with the following comment about John Key: “But after raising the bar on ministerial standards in his first term with ministers including Pansy Wong and Richard Worth, he has shown that he is willing to be just as ruthless in his second term.”

    But wasn’t someone saying that Key hadn’t asked for Smith’s resignation? (Or are we all meant to take it that that is a polite fiction?)

    Comment by Thomas Beagle — March 22, 2012 @ 7:22 am

  3. did they have a relationhip? I thought Peters had said (with apparent sincerity) he didn’t mean to make that insinuation.

    It’s all a bit weird but I don’t think there’s much more to it than Pullar badgering Smith til he made a mistake.

    Comment by NeilM — March 22, 2012 @ 8:16 am

  4. Or Pullar leaked all the details herself to embarrass Nick Smith just like she threatened to do

    Comment by Rob — March 22, 2012 @ 8:36 am

  5. Presumably he isn’t just making things up

    What about Mr Armstrong’s track record leads you to believe this?

    Comment by David Winter — March 22, 2012 @ 9:08 am

  6. @Thomas Beagle, That comment from watkins leaped out at me too. Richard Worth got a number of ‘errors of judgement” under his belt before he lost the PM’s confidence, eventually for reasons too opaque to be understood, or at least explained.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 22, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  7. A comment attributed to Pullar seemed to be saying people were able to buy this information in a corrupt way…and they she was sent information intended for someone else. Otherwise, why would all those names be sent to one person at all? If there is anything in that, it will be a MUCH bigger fuss than we’ve seen with Nick Smith.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — March 22, 2012 @ 11:08 am

  8. I keep thinkng about an NBR story from last friday, (front page, dead tree version), that Collins was “Livid” with Smith about the pre-election announcement of levy cuts, which turned the ‘opening up to competition’ dance into a clusterfuck. Collins was left carrying the can for an undoable policy. The article directly stated that cabinet relations were messed up over it.

    Could be nothing. And Smiths calls for an inquiry could be payback. National party LARPS ftw.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 22, 2012 @ 11:31 am

  9. From Phil Twyford:

    The ultimate National Party character reference: “She comes from a very good South Island family.” Cameron Brewer on Bronwyn Pullar.

    This looks messy.

    Comment by George D — March 22, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

  10. “Smith’s Bad Dream”

    Kudos for that🙂

    Comment by Progger — March 22, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

  11. It’s well known in the beltway’s inner circles that Judith Collins and Nick Smith don’t see eye to eye, to put it mildly… Is Crusher Collins becoming so manically bloodthirsty that she is starting to prey on her own kind, purely for the thrill of taking the scalp?

    Comment by Insider147 — March 22, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  12. @Insider

    Yes, they don’t – but why? That’s the deeper, slightly more messy question…

    Comment by Gartha — March 22, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  13. @Gartha

    Are you suggesting that this was some kind of love triange gone wrong?

    Comment by Insider147 — March 22, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

  14. Watkins ought to be employed by the National Party for the stuff she writes.

    I do concede it is difficult to distinguish the Dominion Post from the National Party.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — March 22, 2012 @ 8:49 pm


    So ACC is only now informing victims that their names were leaked to Pullar.

    Comment by Ross — March 23, 2012 @ 10:00 am

  16. Af for you claim, Danyl, that Pullar sent personal files to the media, have you got any evidence of this? ACC are claiming she threatened to release files, not that she did.

    Comment by Ross — March 23, 2012 @ 10:02 am

  17. @Steve: “A comment attributed to Pullar seemed to be saying people were able to buy this information in a corrupt way…and they she was sent information intended for someone else. Otherwise, why would all those names be sent to one person at all?”

    Maybe, but given how spreadsheets typically work and how complex they sometimes are, I can easily imagine how this might happen accidentally if ACC’s information handling policies are simply bad, which they seem to be, and if a person failed to properly check what was in the document they were sending.

    Re the meeting at ACC and the ongoing word war about what was said, it seems standard practice for so many insurance companies and government organisations of this nature (and I’m presuming ACC) to record phone calls these days, at least with permission, for exactly this reason of having objective information about what was said when disputes later arise. I’m a little bit surprised that there doesn’t seem to be a recording of the meeting between Pullar and the ACC staff. Organisations like ACC should really be recording in-person meetings by default unless there’s a request not to do so, and keeping the recordings on file with all other information about a case.

    Comment by MikeM — March 23, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

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