NZ POLITICS DAILY: Bronwyn Pullar - hero or villain?

Bronwyn Pullar

Don’t expect Bronwyn Pullar’s name to be in the New Years honours list, but there is a view she has done us all a service by forcing ACC to front up on its shortcomings.

John Armstrong agrees with that assessment which was expressed yesterday by Michael Crompton, a former Australian Privacy Commissioner who helped author one of the ACC reviews – see Armstrong’s Pullar has done us a huge favour.

Sometimes political scandals do indeed work out well due to the power of activist-inclined citizens and investigative journalism. The shakeup of ACC that we’re currently witnessing would never have happened if not for the dogged work of Bronwyn Pullar and Phil Kitchin of the Dominion Post. Kitchin himself points out that there is still more to come – neither of the reports yesterday dealt with the laying of the blackmail complaint against Pullar – see: Culture of fear at ACC.
 
The independent reports are, for the most part, highly-technocratic in focus, non-ideological and non-political. Although they contain some very sensible recommendations for improving ACC, they are unlikely to produce any significant changes to the nature of the organisation. They recommend that operating systems are improved and the board needs to pay closer attention to some key issues. They don’t address deeper concerns which are very much political – such as the way that recent governments have reconfigured the Corporation to operate along private sector lines. 
 
For example, Danya Levy reports Greens ACC spokesperson Kevin Hague’s explanation for the current problems in ACC: ‘much of the culture could be attributed to former ACC minister Nick Smith's directive to the corporation in 2009 to focus on its bottom line.  However, he said that change begun in the late 1990s when the former National government moved from a "pay as you go" funding model to an insurance industry-type funding model. It was not reversed by the former Labour government’ – see: Political consensus needed on ACC. The single-minded focus on reducing long-term client numbers was identified as one reason for the board dropping the ball over Pullar’s case, and Danyl Mclauchlan at the Dim Post has a graph showing just how determined they were on this measure – even if it meant just shifting clients onto sickness benefits – see: Speaking of ACC.
 
ACC Minister Judith Collins says the recommendations will be implemented, although it is worth noting that the ‘culture of fear’ amongst senior managers probably isn’t improved with the steady stream of heads rolling – a case of the floggings will continue until morale improves? Jock Anderson at the NBR argues that Collins’ actions have made the situation worse, with what little experience there was on the ACC board being eliminated – see: Collins takes body blow over Pullar affair.
 
Not everyone is a Pullar fan, of course. Cameron Slater has done his own analysis which he says shows Pullar actually gave ACC very little time to respond to her complaints see: ACC Privacy Breach – Timeline of a poker player and ACC Privacy Breach Overview - What was sent to Bronwyn Pullar.
 
However, as is usual in these cases, it’s not the initial error that is crucial, but the lack of response and attempts to cover-up and silence critics that do the real damage.
 
But the most interesting response to the report has been that of Minister Judith Collins’ refusing to go on TV3’s Campbell Live, but instead uploaded a statement to YouTube. This resulted in John Campbell producing an irreverent but also serious examination of the Minister’s new foray into YouTube – watch the video here.
 
Other important or interesting political items today include:
 
 
Bryce Edwards
 
Today’s content
 
See the attached PDF for the full text of all items.
 
ACC reports
John Armstrong (Herald): Pullar has done us a huge favour
Phil Kitchin (Stuff): Culture of fear at ACC
Lloyd Burr and Patrick Gower (TV3): ACC slammed in independent report
Adam Bennett (Herald): ACC privacy report background
Andrea Vance (Stuff): ACC board rapped by auditor-general
Adam Bennett and Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Report: Systemic weaknesses at ACC
Grant Duncan (Policy matters):The ACC Blunder-Bus
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The ACC reports
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): Speaking of ACC
Simon Bradwell (TVNZ): Notes on a privacy scandal
 
Inequality
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): Excerpts from the MSD Household Incomes Report
 
KiwiRail
Audrey Young (Herald): Labour raises doubts over rail
Steven Price (Media Law Journal): Railing against illegal disclosure
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Kiwirail
 
NZ in Afghanistan
Chris Trotter (Taranaki Daily News): Dangerous battle against Taleban 'ghosts'
Joelle Dally (Stuff): Key to attend soldiers' memorial
 
Euthanasia
Bronwyn Torrie (Stuff): PM's euthanasia claim sparks anger
 
Alcohol
Nicholas Jones (Herald): Backlash over Govt backdown on RTDs
Isaac Davison and Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): NZ First calls alcopop back-down irresponsible
Danya Levy and John Hartevelt (Stuff): Government criticised for dropping RTD liquor ban
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Some sense on RTDs
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On how lobbying works
Sue Kedgley (Dom Post): Booze industry win, means youths suffer
Eric Crampton (Offsetting Behaviour): A symposium, of sorts
David Farrar (Herald): Fisking the Herald editorial
 
Tobacco
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): Big Tobacco's New Best Friend
Carla Penman (Stuff): Victoria University to go smokefree
 
MMP Review
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Less proportional, more waste, more gaming
 
Parliament
Jane Clifton (Listener): Will there be a Labour leadership coup?
Claire Trevett (Herald): Tables are turned on Key
Gordon Campbell (Wellingtonian): Mind the widening gender voting gap
 
Other
John Drinnan (Herald): Bloggers want PR to pay
Lyn Humphreys and Kirsty McMurray (Stuff); CYF pays out millions for sex abuse
Matthew Theunissen (Herald): Petrol today still cheaper than in 1980s
Wayne Thompson (Herald): Rangitoto Island could get name change
Stuff: Today in politicsFriday, August 24

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6 Comments & Questions

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Her lobbying every minister she could get hold of to promote her case ahead of others was ignorant. Her name dropping to try and impress/frighten public servants to gain an advantage was puerile and childish behaviour.
And as for Ms Boag emailing that, the return of the info. was "contingent" on ms pullar getting a satisfactory conclusion to her case. Well !!!!!

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Ms Pullar's position that underlying her actions was an intention to show up ACC blunders, and ACC's position that her actions amounted to attempted blackmail, appear to arise from the same “nexus” of facts and actions. The points of views may both be valid.

Compare this with the argument by the Crown that "there was no established 'nexus' between the share float and the potential to remedy the loss of an established right under the Treaty". That foresees that a future means of remedying a loss of “an established right” can remain as it is a matter independent of the share float. The (Waitangi) Tribunal counters by employing the word “nexus” but at the same time by sleight of hand shifts the meaning of nexus to the unbounded “Maori rights”: "There is a nexus between the asset (shares enhanced by shareholders' agreements and revamped constitutions) and Maori rights in the water bodies used by the power-generating companies.”

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This lady is no hero (nor a heroine).

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She was either attempting stand-over tactics and blackmail - or worse.

She can spin it however she wants to - her actions speak a lot louder than the hand-wringing bleating words she attempts to spin.

An honest person would simply delete the email and the scant info on it - rather than try and use it against the ACC for her own advantage.

If I didn't know better, you'd think she was a card-carrying member of the Labour Party! Maybe Shearer could recruit her and help the Labour Party secure donations of more than $15K per citizenship... she certainly has some track record of dealing with "inconveniently truthful" situations - so she could certainly run for a Ministerial post with Labour - because no one in National will want to even mention her name - let alone give her the time of day. She could even be almost as obnoxious as Trevor - further enhancing the Labour Parties reputation. It would be a win-win for both Labour and Bronwyn...

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Although I agree with you re her character. I think this issue is a little bit more serious. It goes to the heart of peoples trust and confidence in our public service. we should be confident that the public service should never tolerate queue jumping or favourable treatment, and trust that any attempt at queue jumping or favoured treatment be at least exposed to the public gaze and where ever possible, prosecuted to the full.
The public deserve to know that they are treated equal, be it in hospital waiting lists, immigration lists, unemployment, ACC or whatever.
John Morrison

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I believe she was a bluer than blue Gnat supporter whose mate was Boag who is dyed blue.
Pullar exposed ACC as well as Collins for being either corrupt or highly suspect.We can thank her fro that.

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