Nick Smith plays dumb

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, October 15th, 2009 - 13 comments
Categories: ACC, national/act government - Tags:

Answering the question you wish you were asked rather than the one you were is a common PR tactic (to a point) when speaking to the media. Watching a cabinet minister try the same trick in parliament really starts to unveil this government’s contempt for democracy (though this example is perhaps not quite as bad as stay-on-your-bum Gerry Brownlee).

Marty G has well proven Nick Smith’s propensity to play with or hide numbers when they don’t quite suit him. First in this post showing he edited a Treasury costing he then tabled in parliament to make it look as though they didn’t know the future costs of the ETS’s subsidies to polluters. Then in this post three days ago telling the real story of the ACC beat up. In neither post did anyone seriously bother disputing the claims Marty G made.

Question time yesterday was so (almost)laughably pathetic that I just couldn’t resist putting yet another nail in the coffin.

If the questions being asked were out of the ordinary and raised issues not raised before, one could understand Nick Smith stumbling a little. Even then I would hope and expect a cabinet minister to promise to follow up and get the real answers sought.

The question asked however was simple: ‘What is the estimated whole-of-life cost to ACC of all new claims made in the financial year ended 30 June 2009?’

Nick Smith gave an answer completely irrelevant to the question: ‘The annual report of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) tabled last week shows that the current estimate for claim costs for the year ended 30 June 2009 is $7.103 billion. ‘

He then claimed, ‘The answer is the advice I have received from ACC. The question was forwarded over to ACC, and that is the answer it has provided me with.’

Under further pressure he simply repeated his original answer.

Nick Smith had hours before question time yesterday to ensure he had a correct answer to a simple question. If he really believed the question was about what the current claim costs were, why did he need to forward it to ACC for advice? He had after all tabled the annual report in parliament only the week before.

The last supplementary was a nice patsy one from a National backbencher:

Michael Woodhouse: What reports has the Minister seen on not fully funding accident compensation, and returning it to a ‘pay as you go’ model?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The problem with ‘pay as you go’ is that the costs of today’s accidents are passed on to future generations…

Really? Could it possibly be the future costs of today’s claims that Labour’s David Parker was asking for in the first place?

This is an issue fundamentally related to a beat up that Nick Smith came up with and has spent significant time hammering out through the media, alleging that Labour ‘lost’ billions of dollars from ACC. Making that serious an allegation, one would at least expect him to be prepared and well briefed on the issue.

Pretending he still doesn’t understand the difference between the whole-of-life cost of new claims, and the current claim costs just doesn’t fly. And if he was telling the truth, he most certainly is not fit to be a cabinet minister.

13 comments on “Nick Smith plays dumb”

  1. outofbed 1

    This may be slightly off topic or maybe not thinking about it.
    But has anybody else noticed who bright red Smith face appeared on telly last night I don’t think he is well

    • lprent 1.1

      Yeah, didn’t exactly look the best

    • Ianmac 1.2

      Nick is basking in reflected bright red glory because of his cleverness.
      The ex Acc Board member talking to Katherine this morning about 9:20 believes that though there are bits to improve, the real intent is to privatise ACC after 2011. Softening up and compatmentalising, I think.

  2. tc 2

    One of the weakest links in this 21st century muldoonesque gov’t and there’s a few ……lets see some continual pressure over this/ETS negotiations and deals with maori in a manner that sticks in the swinging voters mind.
    The man’s so bad at it whereas JK’s made a career out of it so looks smooth and likeable when he gets ‘comfortable’ with any issue……the consumate banker.
    Labour yet again look incapable of making inroads against such golden opportnities presented by ‘L’ plate ministers like Smith/Tolley/Collins/Bennett and the rest.
    Keep it simple, persistent and nag nag nag………the divorce will eventually occur.

  3. Rich 3

    The problem with “pay as you go’ is that the costs of today’s accidents are passed on to future generations

    But the “future generations” will also be having accidents, unless you believe we’re on the brink of some entirely safe utopia where everyone lives forever!

    So it all evens out.

    The only reason to fully fund ACC is to prepare it for closure

    Why can’t Labour politicians get that and run with it?

  4. sean14 4

    “Answering the question you wish you were asked rather than the one you were is a common PR tactic (to a point) when speaking to the media. Watching a cabinet minister try the same trick in parliament really starts to unveil this government’s contempt for democracy”

    Oh please, spare us the righteous indignation. That is a trait common to all politicians, not just the ones currently occupying the Treasury benches.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    Question 1. Does the minister understand the difference between whole-life costs for claims lodged in a particular year and costs incurred in a particular year?

    Question 2. What are the claim costs incurred in the year ending June 30th 2009.

    Question 3. What are the whole-life costs for claims lodged in the year ending June 30th 2009.

    If he answers ‘yes’ to the first, he can’t give the same answer for the second two questions.

  6. Ianmac 6

    Have you noticed how Nick is prefacing his answers with ” The ACC Board has decided to….” It is the Board’s fault after all in’nit.

  7. Rex Widerstrom 7

    Lockwood did blunder with the supplementary questions thing and I agree I think he realised it and even regretted it.

    He can always relax that attitude and find some other way to punish the disruptive.

    But credit where it’s due, he skewered (and re-skewered Brownlee over Brendon Burns’ RWC question.

    He’s still learning, but a year or so in I’d rate him a better Speaker than any predecessor I’ve personally heard chairing the House, and that goes back some 30 years of listening to Parliament.

  8. Stacktwo 8

    Like your headline, Rocky –

    “Nick Smith’s Plain Dumb”

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