Deborah Coddington

Deborah Coddington is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Deborah Coddington: Too much doesn't add up in this ACC security story

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John Key has twice asked his ACC Minister, Judith Collins, if she leaked a private email from Michelle Boag. Photo / Michael Craig
John Key has twice asked his ACC Minister, Judith Collins, if she leaked a private email from Michelle Boag. Photo / Michael Craig

Despite the Prime Minister's plea, everyone has not "moved on" from the ACC security breach debacle.

It's hugely significant that John Key has twice asked his ACC Minister if she leaked the email from Michelle Boag. His statement on Wednesday was disingenuous: "I've got no reason at all to question her."

Obviously he'd already questioned her, and gone on the record about it.

Debate now swirls around who did leak this private email that Boag, former National Party president, sent to Judith Collins. Collins sent it to ACC chairman John Judge and chief executive Ralph Stewart. She insists neither she, nor anyone in her office, leaked it.

Before the Boag communication was published in this newspaper, we did not know the person who received in error from ACC a spreadsheet with more than 6000 names was Bronwyn Pullar, National Party stalwart, and that she'd badgered former ACC Minister Nick Smith, and other National MPs, for months seeking favours in her fight with ACC to get a benefit.

So when her name became public, it was only a matter of time before we knew about the two letters Smith wrote on ministerial letterhead.

But though Smith went quickly, the controversy won't die. Now there is to be an inquiry. There are so many things wrong with this picture, and in so many ways.

First: why is the taxpayer-funded ACC even expected to pay compensation to someone who, we now know, has already received a million-dollar payout from a private insurance company for her bicycle accident, the same accident for which she's seeking an ongoing benefit from ACC?

Can you imagine the scandal that would have erupted if media discovered a National Party insider, with a little help from her MP mates, had secured an ACC benefit because she fell off her bike the day after a night on the town with more of her right-wing mates, lived in a $700,000 apartment, and was already supported by the income from a million-dollar trust, courtesy of another insurance payout? All from the same accident?

Another puzzle: Boag has stated that Collins told her if she (Boag) wrote to her, she would have to pass the communication directly on to ACC.

Boag is a very smart operator and I just can't understand her charging ahead and sending such a self-incriminating email to Collins if she knew it was going to be sent on to the chairman, and the chief executive, of ACC. Unless Collins was being set up.

But there were brain fades all around in this sorry saga.

Pullar certainly wasn't thinking straight. She's not a whistleblower, as some insist on calling her. A whistleblower would not have held on to other people's private information from August to December, then allegedly threatened ACC senior managers with it.

A whistleblower would have gone straight to the Privacy Commissioner.

But this is all about Pullar. When her name became public and her "friend" Smith had to resign, instead of shutting up and going to ground, she kept on digging, blathering away in public. She couldn't even apologise to Smith in private, but hogged the spotlight, then bagged ACC again.

And yes, it was a stupid thing Smith did, but it speaks volumes about the type of representative he's always been.

Every time he's been in hot water, it's because he's taken his advocacy for constituents a little too far.

He's forgotten to think about himself and the consequences for his own career, and that has been his downfall.

This time he thought it was for a friend, but a friend wouldn't have asked him to intervene for her in the first place.

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- Herald on Sunday

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