Nick Smith's statement to the House

"Mr Speaker, I seek leave of the House to make a personal explanation in respect of my former role as Minister of ACC and issues that have been raised in recent days.

"Mr Speaker, this afternoon I've tendered my resignation, in all of my portfolios, to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister has quite properly accepted my resignation.

"Mr Speaker I do so because I made not one error of judgment but two, in dealing with a conflict of interest in respect of a friend who had made repeated attempts to me during my period as Minister of ACC to advocate and interfere on her case.

"The first error I made was in July last year, when she said to me that there were concerns about what her status was prior to her accident.

"I provided a letter, providing knowledge of her in that pre-accident period. The letter did make claim that I did not seek in any way to interfere in ACC decisions about her claim and was made in the role of being a friend.

"It was an error of judgment firstly in doing the letter, but more so in it being on ministerial letterhead.

"Yesterday I asked ACC to go through and check all of the correspondence that I had over my three years as minister, and there was quite a lot, with this particular person.

"The letter that I, for instance, wrote in March last year, very properly said `I cannot interfere in your case, there are proper processes for you to go through.'

"In December prior to that in 2010, I too wrote another letter to her in response and acted absolutely properly and managed the conflict of interest correctly as well.

"The second instance that brings me to the point that it is the proper thing for me to do and to resign is that there was a letter in March of 2010 where a Member of Parliament was advocating for this person to the Associate Minister of ACC who was then Pansy Wong.

"Pansy Wong, quite properly, said that this was a friend of hers too _ she was on her campaign committee and declared a conflict of interest _ and referred that letter back to myself.

"ACC prepared a formal response to that letter and I signed out that error back to that constituent without acknowledging that I too had a conflict of interest.

"It was that second letter in which, having not erred once but erred twice, has brought about my resignation this morning.

"Mr Speaker, I do want to put on the public record that I did not, in my view, interfere in any way in the judgment calls that ACC made about that particular person's claim but I do accept that the signing of those two letters is not up to the standard this Parliament can rightly expect of its ministers.

"I firstly want to again apologise to the Prime Minister, to my caucus colleagues, my family and staff. It is my intention to serve out this term of Parliament.

"I love this place, I'm disappointed I'm not going to be able to continue my work in some of those areas I have a passion. But I apologise to all my fellow representatives for those misjudgments.''

Add a Comment

 

 

drivesouth-pow-generic-1.png

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter