The 'friend' and activist linked to Smith's demise

Last updated 05:00 22/03/2012
INJURED IN BICYCLE ACCIDENT: Bronwyn Pullar.
TV1
INJURED IN BICYCLE ACCIDENT: Bronwyn Pullar.

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The woman who has indirectly brought about Nick Smith's downfall is well-connected to several leading National Party figures.

Bronwyn Pullar is from a Southland farming family. She had a successful business career before becoming involved in National Party communications in 2001, working under then party president Michelle Boag.

Ms Pullar was also former National Cabinet minister Pansy Wong's campaign manager.

But in 2002 Ms Pullar suffered life-changing head injuries in a bicycle accident the day before she was due to complete a $22 million project for a client. She will never be able to work again at the high level she did before the accident.

She graduated from Otago University with degrees in psychology, commerce and marketing.

She worked for several years in North America, developing markets for New Zealand apple and kiwifruit varieties, and helped develop the global Zespri kiwifruit brand.

She later set up a successful private brand and marketing consulting business and was appointed to the board of state-owned Learning Media as one of the youngest female Crown company directors.

But it is her continuing battles with ACC since her accident that have led to Dr Smith's resignation.

Some of her repeated complaints to ACC have been about its assessments processes hindering, rather than helping, her get back to work and off her financial reliance on the taxpayer.

Over several years she made repeated complaints to ACC's management, board and ministers about its failure to take seriously her concerns about systemic breaches of clients' privacy.

She took her complaints to the board and, at its instigation, a crucial meeting was held between Ms Pullar, her long-time advocate Ms Boag, and ACC managers Philip Murch and Hans Verberne on December 1.

Starkly different accounts of that meeting have emerged.

A corporation report for ACC Minister Judith Collins last week alleged Ms Pullar threatened to go to the media and withhold the data involved in the mass privacy breach if she was not given a guaranteed two-year benefit.

ACC did not talk to Ms Pullar or Ms Boag before publishing its report. It has since made a complaint to police about the alleged threats.

Ms Pullar says ACC has lied in that report. She claims she did not ask for a guaranteed two-year benefit and made no threats about going to the media at the meeting.

"I did not threaten ACC to get my own way in any way."

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She gave ACC a document detailing 45 privacy and protocol breaches at the end of the meeting, and the managers were asked to address the issues, she said.

Ms Pullar said the managers thanked her for the meeting, saying it had been productive, and they undertook to investigate the issues, she said.

- Fairfax Media

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