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Collins takes body blow over Pullar affair

Auditor-General Lyn Provost delivered a body blow to ACC minister Judith Collins for her board-level botching of the Bronwyn Pullar affair.

Without naming her, Auditor-General Provost makes severe criticisms of the circumstances surrounding Miss Collins’ hasty decision to sack experienced board members after the Pullar affair blew up in March.

When the Pullar incident went public Miss Collins reacted by promptly removing the ACC’s most commercially experienced directors – chairman John Judge (recently appointed chairman of ANZ National Bank), deputy chairman John McCliskie and Rob Campbell.

Director Murray Hinder resigned soon after, as did ceo Ralph Stewart, who finishes in a few weeks.

The expectation ACC board members would do two terms is supported by Auditor-General Provost.

In her report Ms Provost says this:

“The ACC board at the time was reaching this point of maturity. Most of its members had served about three years.

“Its primary focus for that period, at the direction of the previous minister, had been to address ACC’s long-term liabilities, to ensure ACC’s viability into the future.

“It had carried out that task, and was at the point of broadening its focus to ensure equal attention to all aspects of the business.

“We consider that a new board member, even if that person is an experienced director, will take two to three years to understand key actuarial and financial aspects of ACC, as well as its culture,” Ms Provost says.

Board members needed to understand these matters to be able to balance ensuring the fair and equitable treatment of its claimants and keeping ACC financially viable.

Ms Provost also acknowledged a positive business plan for 2012 to 2015, prepared under chief executive Mr Stewart’s leadership, and the value of retaining highly experienced ACC board members.

On the back of successfully meeting their government brief to turnaround and improve ACC’s financial position, the directors were expected to be re-appointed for a second three year term.

When Miss Collins did not renew their terms, she left leaving ACC – arguably the Government’s biggest investment instutition handling billions of dollars a year – commercially rudderless.

The jury is still out on how what is seen as a grave knee-jerk error of judgment will damage Miss Collins’ political future.

More by Jock Anderson

Comments and questions
7

Good. Time to close it down.

Option A: Collins resigns
Option B: Key Fires her
Option C: Key Demotes her
Will Key do the "Right Thing" and Re-instate the Board?

Likely? No. they will bad-mouth the AG and the report.

In a normal world, you mess up your job so much for an hysterical reaction to CYA...you'd expect to be removed and replaced by your boss. Hello?? Mr Key??

This is this stupid pseudo political culture that for every mistake someone has to pay a price and resign - frankly in most cases, simply due to the minimal amount of capable resource in NZ I would rather they stayed and fixed things up.

Though, frankly, I think many resign just to get out of the circus.

I make mistakes all the time - smart thing is not to make the same mistake twice. - This is a factor of the whole media entertainment Schadenfreude shenanigans - but then I guess this culture goes back as far as the Romans with the mentality of the Coliseum and the baying crowd seeking blood.

What happens is this mentality starts feeding on itself and it seems that the only way to fix something - it to fire someone and replace them with someone who has yet to have any expertise in the job and probably isn't as capable as the incumbent or they would have had the job in the first place.

New Zealanders used to have a practical nature, now instead of sorting something out people run around and do utterly stupid things, simply for the entertainment of others.

But I guess I am just as bad as others as I sit here and read and respond to this cr*p. What a world we live in!

I have to pay ACC levies thus cannot escape John Judge.
But I do not have to stay as a client of ANZ National Bank,and can escape the John Judge by leaving.

Problems in ACC (Board and senior management) ,have been obvious for some years. Sacking the recently appointed senior management and Board is likely to make things worse particularly if they are replaced by light weight political appointees. A Minister who is less self focussed and with a bit of relevant Board/senior management experience is desperately needed..

Even worse ... lots of people are being asked to take on the role but no one has said yes. And why would you going into that environment?