MP expected to return to Cabinet

Nick Smith
Nick Smith
Nick Smith, tipped to return to the Cabinet after resigning early this year as a result of the Bronwyn Pullar scandal, stands by the hard line on long-term ACC claimants which Ms Pullar says prompted her to go to the media over a huge privacy breach.

Dr Smith resigned his local government, climate change and environment portfolios in March after it was reported he had written a letter in support of his friend and former National Party insider Ms Pullar's ACC claim months earlier when he was ACC Minister.

Ms Pullar has subsequently said her main motivation for going to the media about a privacy breach by the corporation was because ACC was unfairly forcing long-term claimants off compensation to save money.

Dr Smith, who is expected to return to the Cabinet in a re-shuffle prompted by Speaker Lockwood Smith's appointment as High Commissioner to Britain later this year, said the "culture of disentitlement" he is alleged to have introduced while minister "is a bit of a myth".

ACC required a careful balance between the rights of claimants and ensuring they got the right care and rehabilitation and the cost of levies on families and businesses.

"I absolutely stand by the decision for ACC to set targets around the number of long-term claimants. What I reject is any notion that those targets were set on the basis of arbitrary financial numbers."

Since his resignation, Dr Smith said he had been able to spend more time with his family and also do constituency work.

He had also been able to spend more time seeking advice in policy areas of interest which are likely to be part of the Government's legislative focus in coming months, including water, climate change, land-use planning and earthquake standards. That work would be useful "whether I be a backbencher or a rehabilitated minister".

"I'm hopeful I might again be given that opportunity at some stage but equally so that is a call totally for the Prime Minister."Former Labour MP John Tamihere says it is too early to be definitive about a return to Parliament in 2014, but says if he does seek a return he looks forward to the contest.

Speaking on Q + A yesterday, Mr Tamihere said he was "looking seriously" at it.

He would not confirm that he would be chasing the Waitakere seat, but said he would not chase a Maori seat.



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