Editorial: Little point in ACC letters inquiry

WARWICK RASMUSSEN
Last updated 12:00 23/03/2012

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OPINION: Nick Smith had no other option than to resign his ministerial posts, but any thoughts of a further inquiry are unwarranted.

Like an unravelling woollen jersey, the 20-plus years he had spent fashioning a political career all came undone in a matter of days.

He was clearly emotional when he fell on his sword on Wednesday afternoon for his admitted double indiscretion involving a friend, ACC stationery and a helpful letter.

Incidentally, the letter did little to help the friend, Bronwyn Pullar, with her battle against the corporation, but that was beside the point.

By his own admission, Smith had erred not once, but twice – and for that he had to take the hit.

The man at the top eventually did the right thing and took the ultimate political punishment after admitting he had acted improperly.

On the scale of offences it was hardly treasonous, but as Prime Minister John Key said the perception was almost as important.

It was a terrible look, there is no denying that.

A minister of the Crown cannot use his or her position to help influence the decision of a government department or agency. The fact it was one he was in charge of added another layer of impropriety.

Now Smith, and opposition MPs, are wanting an inquiry into the letters and the trail they left behind. There is little point in doing so.

It will become a costly witch hunt that will add to the myriad inquiries and reports that float around the Beehive.

By the time anything of relevance is discovered, collated and reported everyone would have moved on considerably.

The only person any kind of inquiry could benefit would be Dr Smith, but it does also run the risk of further damaging his reputation, which has had its share of ups and downs.

And even though Cabinet ministers have resurrected their careers after spectacular falls from grace, it is a long and brutal climb back.

The question Dr Smith has to ask himself: is it all worth it?

The Festival of Cultures is an annual Manawatu event that seems to grow and get better every year. The name goes part of the way to describe what the festival includes and means to the array of cultures, ethnicities and community groups in our great region. It's all about seeing the best everyone has to offer – not least the amazing food that will be around.

For more information on what's on over the eight days, starting today, have a look at the foc.co.nz website and for articles in the Manawatu Standard.

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- Manawatu Standard

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