For me the main scandal about taxpayer funding this week is the fact that we have all contributed $209,000 towards helping Nick Smith get out of a $15 million lawsuit. For saying something for which he has given an apology in court and paid up more than that out of his own pocket.
None of us said – “Say what you like, Nick, we”ll stump up for the costs”. I’d like Nick to pay the money back, to the taxpayer as well as the people defamed. Otherwise it could happen again – here’s what the Nelson Mail had to say in its editorial today:
Perhaps the most telling lesson to come from the saga will be whether it puts paid to his habit of speaking first and facing the consequences later.
It has to be said that on all the evidence to date, that seems highly unlikely.
There is all sorts of “heads must roll” talk about Ministers’ credit cards, starting with Phil Heatley. It seems that inappropriate use is being acknowledged, repented for, and where necessary paid back. Nothing like $209,000 involved anywhere.
I don’t hear any kind of apology to the taxpayer from Nick Smith. Only that he is “delighted” to have got off lightly. So he would be, with all of us taxpayers footing that much of his legal bill.