Influence is never in writing

March 26th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour are saying that may have intervened on behalf of other friends, and that there needs to be an inquiry to determine this. Personally I thought his letter on behalf of Pullar made it pretty clear how reluctant he was to do anything. But it has also dawned on me that the fact he actually wrote a letter actually strongly implies that he was not trying to improperly influence things for Pullar. Why? Well, because he did in fact put it in writing.

If Nick had really been trying to screw the scrum for Pullar, the last thing he would have done is sign his name to a letter acting as a referee for her health before her accident.

If a Minister wants to push a department or agency in a particular way, they do not leave fingerprints. This will be officially denied, but ask any former Ministerial staffer from either party.

If Nick had really wanted to get to give Pullar special treatment, he would have had his minsierial advisor phone the CEO. The ministerial advisor would say something like “The Minister is very concerned about this case”. That is code for “fix it”. They might say stuff like “The Minister is concerned that this could become a high profile story” and “The Minister wants to protect the PM who is constantly getting lobbied on this issue” or “The Minister thinks it would be prudent to assure yourself that the claimant has got everything they are entitled to, and has not been disadvantaged by ’s actions”.

Now none of this changes the fact that Nick’s actions in writing the reference were not acceptable. But in terms of motivation, I do think that they do show his intention wasn’t to apply improper pressure on ACC.  He was trying to placate Pullar. Otherwise he could have just got one of his staff to make a discrete phone call.

And no, I am not saying that agencies will break the law or even their own policies just to please a Minister. However many decisions are subjective and can go either way. It is in those situations, that Ministerial desires can have an impact.

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13 Responses to “Influence is never in writing”

  1. Viking2 (11,242 comments) says:

    Lesson.
    The govt. should get rid of shit it doesn’t want to be involved in.
    ACC, Housing, Health Education,coal, electricity, ad infinitum until they don’t own a thing. Then it can impartially set the rules for others to follow. Will need a lot less MP’s and way less tax collected.
    Fairly straight forward stuff. really.
    Just takes a bit of gits.

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  2. burt (7,988 comments) says:

    V2

    But how would they win elections without the ability to tilt the playing field and hold lolly scrambles…. They would actually need coherent policies rather than hand-outs… I totally agree with your idea but sadly I doubt it will ever catch on… The current way we do it provides far too many opportunites to pick winers and losers for electoral popularity.

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  3. anonymouse (707 comments) says:

    The Minister is very concerned about this case”. That is code for “fix it”.

    there needs to be an inquiry to determine this That is code for we want a soap box so we can drag up a whole lot of ACC cases from every Tom,Dick and Sharlene and embarrass the Government

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  4. jonnobanks (148 comments) says:

    This is amateur stuff. Nick has been there for far too long for him to do something like this. Why did he make this mistake?

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  5. UpandComer (522 comments) says:

    from what I understand Nick is impulsive and a bit obsessive. He was told not to do it. He didn’t listen. He was taken to court over a family law case because of similar instincts.

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  6. JC (932 comments) says:

    Agree with 1 & 2 for the most part.

    The thing is, ACC is an abortion thats unique to NZ because other countries have had the sense to recognise the potential for corruption.

    Worse, ACC has become a second health system thats become a home for mental disorders that often have nothing to do with accidents.

    Worse still, if you listened to talkback this last week or two its obvious that ACC is dodging payments for real injuries like hernias by using a claim of “degenerative” injury rather accident.. even for fit young people with no history of a similar condition. OTOH, those with “sensitive” claims were ringing in praising the corporation.. that’s hardly my idea of an ACC.

    JC

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  7. Martin Gibson (229 comments) says:

    I’m more worried about the other things he impulsively did because he was sure it was right: keeping NZ tied to the ETS/Climate change scam, nationalising the forestry laws in way that suited his mates in Nelson, but the rest of the country, especially not the East Coast . . . not so much.

    Having said that, I’d rather see him fined and rehabilitated because he is a capable man and they’re not as common as they should be in Wellington.

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  8. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > If a Minister wants to push a department or agency in a particular way, they do not leave fingerprints.

    But if someone like Paula Bennett is pissed off, she might disclose private information about that person. Judith Collins might like to explain what involvement (if any) she has had in the Pullar affair.

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  9. tvb (4,240 comments) says:

    It is NOT about the letter which is smoking gun evidence of something MORE, and I suspect he did not initially tell the PM the WHOLE truth about his interference as a Minister in this case. Smith did not want the whole thing to blow wide open so he resigned. And Boag is simply not a trustworthy person and one day you will get that. Meanwhile you are vulnerable to her manipulations. That woman is bad, always has been, and while she is tolerated in the upper reaches of the National Party she is a risk as has most recently been shown in the Smith case. I assume Ministers who value their careers will give her a very wide berth. Go back and read Fran’s article from Saturday.

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  10. lastmanstanding (1,233 comments) says:

    As usual DPF is right. Same goes in other organisations not just Gumint. If you want to influence and not be seen to be you send a messenger a 3rd party to get the message across whilst you remain at arms length well away from the action.

    Smith has always come across as a slightly naive cove who will do things without too much of the usual pollie deep dark thinking and this is what caught him out.

    If he had been a usual LEFT minister he wouldnt have put anything in writing he would have sent someone to do the work for him

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  11. pq (728 comments) says:

    Farrar previously gave here a letter from the previous husband of Nick Smiths wife.
    See in other references from farrar below.

    Farrar said that it was hard to imagine how this estranged husband could come to like Nick Smith,
    but it was obviously true that Smith is admired.
    We all have a foibles.
    John Key was ruthless here . This is his foible. A vicious ruthless streak that is not natural to us.
    His counterpart Helen would have allowed the plebs to simmer down.
    Nick Smith is Nick Smith, and John Key just lost a good Minister, and a good bloke.

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  12. Viking2 (11,242 comments) says:

    Perhaps we should ask who influenced this debacle at the taxpayers expense? We pay these top guns how much? to run things properly. Amature time all over.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10794827

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  13. Mark (1,413 comments) says:

    Nick Smith screwed up here and his resignation was inevitable in the end. Sadly national has lost a good minister and given the pool of talent it is a loss they cannot afford.

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