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I've served my time away: Nick Smith

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 08:18 23/01/2013

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Nick Smith, back in the Cabinet just 10 months after resigning in disgrace, says he has "reflected and learnt" from his mistakes.

While Smith was tipped to return to the Cabinet table as Conservation Minister, Prime Minister John Key pulled a surprise move yesterday by promoting the Nelson MP to Minister of Housing.

It came less than a year after Smith was forced to resign when it emerged he had written a letter in support of ACC client Bronwyn Pullar, a personal friend, on ACC ministerial letterhead while Minister for ACC.

Smith said he had served his time for his mistake, which did not meet the standards of the Government.

"My resignation was very much around being disappointed in myself for allowing a perception to develop that if you are a friend of a [government] Minister that somehow you will be treated differently," Smith said.
"That was never my intention but on reflection that was a perception of what I had done.

"My decision to resign was to make it plain that I adhere to a set of values, and National [adheres] to a set of values, that whether you're a friend of a politician or not there's one set of rules in this country."

A subsequent investigation found that Pullar gained no special treatment or payment to which she was not entitled.

"I've certainly reflected and learnt from that error but am welcoming the opportunity to make a contribution in both housing and conservation," Smith said.

There were "certainly not to my knowledge" any further errors in his past which would undermine the Prime Minister's confidence in him.

Key had not given him, nor had he sought, an assurance that he could return to Cabinet, Smith said this morning.

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