The demise of Nick Smith has been spectacular, but it is not an end to the ACC privacy story, and the story continues to develop by the hour.
I will keep a live update here as developments come in. Stay tuned.
7:08am: An emergency meeting of political journalists will be held at 8:00am this morning to decide on a “gate” name for the scandal.
7:52am: Winston Peters tells Morning Report’s Simon Mercep that he is in receipt of information about the involvement of senior National people in the ACC scandal, that will “sink this stinking corrupt government for good”. Peters refuses to expand on what what he has, other than to say “follow the marmite.”
8:07am: Speculation continues to mount about whose family Dr Smith plans to spend more time with, now he has stepped down as a cabinet minister.
9:05am: A row has broken out between journalists. One group wants to use “Pullargate”, while another has selected “ACCgate”. A third group says both suggestions are lame and continues to brainstorm. Emergency coffee is called in.
9:09am: Tributes continue to pour in for Dr Nick Smith.
“Dr Smith may have deliberately manufactured a financial crisis within ACC to justify savage cuts, leaving thousands of chronically ill people without adequate medical cover, and inflicting misery and suffering upon numerous families, and all but destroying an institution that for decades has been there to help people in need, but, hey, nobody’s perfect” (Graeme Burton, prisoner)
“Who’s that? Dr Smith? No, no, my doctor’s an Indian chappie. Mr Singh’s his name. What? Speak up, dear, I can’t hear you. My MP? No, Dr Singh’s not a politician, dear. I never heard of such a thing! He has his offices on Hardy Street, just down from the chemist. If you want his phone number I probably have it here somewhere… what? What’s that? Nick Smith? No, no, he’s not my doctor. It’s Dr Singh. I can spell it out for you if you like. Nick Smith’s an MP, not a GP, for goodness sakes! My my, you have got the wrong end of the stick, if you don’t mind me saying so. Cheerio!” (Agnes Bentley, retired, Nelson)
“Woof woof woof!” (someone’s dog)
10:01am: Labour leader David Shearer issues a statement to the media demanding the resignation of Nick Smith from his ministerial positions.
10:09am: TV3 Political Editor Duncan Garner violently ejected from journalists’ meeting after suggesting using “-gate” to describe the growing scandal was dated and unoriginal. More coffee called in, together with emergency supply of cigarettes.
11:19am: John Key says the privacy aspect of the ACC saga has been overblown. “Privacy is only an issue when politicians talk to each other in a cafe in front of the media,” he tells reporters.
11:35am: Former cabinet minister spotted limping into the Nelson ACC office. Speculation that he is submitting paperwork for self-inflicted gunshot wounds to feet.