Dr Nick Smith's speech to Parliament

Nick Smith's resignation was accepted by the prime minister this afternoon. Photo / NZ Herald
Nick Smith's resignation was accepted by the prime minister this afternoon. Photo / NZ Herald

"Mr Speaker, this afternoon I have tendered my resignation in all of my portfolios to the prime minister.

The prime minister has quite properly accepted my resignation.

Mr Speaker I do so because I made not one but two errors of judgment 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 to her status prior to the accident.

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

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

Yesterday, I asked ACC to go through and check all 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 can't 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 in 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 this was a friend of hers too, she was on the campaign committee and a conflict of interest and referred that letter back to myself.

ACC prepared a formal response to that letter, 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 not having 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 anyway 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, to my family and staff. It is my intention to serve out this term's 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 apologies to all my fellow representatives for those misjudgements.

Mr Speaker, I seek the leave of the house to table the four letters, allbeit one letter does have some personal information, and I assure the house the only information that has been removed is personal information that is not proper before the house, so that it is quite clear to the events that have occurred."


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