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Perspective on Conflict of Interests

Filed under: Gender Politics,Law & Courts,Sex Abuse / CYF — MurrayBacon @ 12:35 pm Thu 22nd March 2012

Conflict of Interest can be a touchy subject, but it is very important that we keep in mind the consequences, or potential consequences.

Resignation Announced

NICK SMITH: “I have made not one error of judgement but two in dealing with a conflict of interest.”

Embattled MP Nick Smith has resigned all of his Cabinet portfolios.

The MP for Nelson has been embroiled in a controversy over a letter he provided to friend Bronwyn Pullar while he was still ACC minister which was used to advance her ACC claim.

“I made not one error of judgement but two in dealing with a conflict of interest in respect of a friend,” he told Parliament this afternoon.

He said doing the letter was an error and ‘more so” doing it on ministerial letterhead.

Dr Smith said it was the “proper” thing to do to resign.

“Mr Speaker I want to put on the public record that I did not interfere in any way, in my view, in the judgement calls ACC made about that person’s claim, but I do accept the signing of those two letters is not up to the standard that Parliament expects of its ministers.”

An emotional Dr Smith said he would serve out his term in Parliament.

Dr Smith said his speech in Parliament was hard, and the fiasco has been difficult for his family.

“I messed up and I just apologise to all those people that I let down,” he said.

“I want time with my family to reflect on my future. Obviously, prior to the 2014 election, I’ll make a decision as to whether to continue as an elected representative,” he said.

The portfolios he resigned from are climate change issues, environment and local government.

Prime Minister John he had accepted Dr Smith’s resignation “with sadness”.
NZ First leader Winston Peters yesterday told Parliament it was “a shabby little case, involving blackmail, sex, [and] a minister with a conflict of interest”.

However, Dr Smith today rejected Peters’ claim.

“What I have openly done is acknowledged that Bronwyn Pullar was a friend, that I knew her because she was a volunteer of the National Party in Auckland and I knew her from her work as a marketer in the fruit exporting business.”

He had made it clear in the letter Pullar was a “good friend” and told her in two previous letters that as ACC minister there was no way he could advise the Corporation on her claim.

The third letter was written on the basis of supplying a reference on her state of health prior to her cycling accident in 2002.

“You always walk this difficult line as a minister. You do have friends, you do have family, where is that line? In hindsight it was an error, as the letter could be misconstrued.”

Smith said the only people in politics who didn’t make mistakes were those who didn’t do anything.

The letter had not resulted in Ms Pullar getting ACC entitlements, he said.
I have not kept up with this story in detail, but what hit me like an axe falling from the sky, was that the letters had not resulted in the lady receiving any additional entitlements?

By comparison, where legal-workers can and do receive extra money, by featherbedding out hearings and I believe, tending to find against richer litigants, to pressure them to appeal, the consequences for children’s lives and their parent’s live, are huge.

Consider Chris Jones and Kay Skelton. If Kay Skelton had been handled competently by familycaught$, then Jayden would have been saved a huge amount of manipulation, from age 0 to 6 years. Both of his parents would have been saved huge legal charges, for just destructive service. His mother would have been saved from 2 years jail for perjury.

By comparison, where legal-workers can and do receive extra money, by featherbedding out hearings and I believe, tending to find against richer litigants, to pressure them to appeal, the consequences for children’s lives and their parent’s live, are huge.

Consider the many cases of sexual abuse allegation, after sexual abuse allegation. The children under these may lose years of contact and relationship with a parent, usually their father. I do know of cases where the father has generated multiple allegations, so I don’t see false allegations as a gender issue. As well as consequences in terms of time and dollars, we must also add in father’s and mother’s suicides and children’s suicides in the wake of these allegations. These are situations which must be handled competently in the real world, not just “professional thief competently”.

It is an old subject:

Are unmanaged conflicts of interest hazardous to our children and our wealth?

Parental Conflict – Alienating a Child

More Corruption by Judge and Judicial Conduct Commissioner

Mother Hazard Father Hazard

Suicides prompt child custody shakeup

Inviting Media to report on Family court Case’s

Study Shows Little Interest By News Media In Family Court Proceedings

So what?

I am suggesting that the caughts must be held to the same level of transparency and accountability, as Parliament works to. Dr Nick Smith resigned after a $0.00 problem was exposed.

What would happen, if all “judges” in NZ, who worked on through a conflict of interest over $1,000 were exposed? I doubt that there would be a single judge remaining. The most important issue, is protecting all customers of familycaught$, from the caught itself!

I don’t believe that NZ has a surplus of talent in politics. To dispose of a talented Minister is a significant cost to NZ. On the other hand, if NZ had an open common law system and judicial services were charged at reasonable cost, we have far more judges than needed. It would be constructive to cut their numbers down, by removing the less useful judges.

We could also look at the total value of these conflicts of interest. I would guess that the value to legal-workers, of all manipulated and undeclared conflicts of interest, in the last 30 years, is about $3 billion in familycaught$ alone, plus about 1000 suicides, plus many damaged childhoods for children. We are our own worst enemies, by meekly tolerating these situations.

I remember being yelled at as a child:
Keep your eye on the ball!

Shoot me dead! MurrayBacon.


  1. All elected officials should be open and upfront with their conflicts of interest. In smaller communities it is easier to detect. One point against MMP with its large electorates where many don’t know the name of their MP let alone what they look like. there can still remain the suspicion of cover-ups. How often do we refer to the legal fraternity all slurping at the same trough.

    MP’s are subject to the same rules, though stricter. They must not only be open and honest, they must be seen to be open and honest!

    Comment by Gwaihir — Thu 22nd March 2012 @ 1:30 pm

  2. Dear Gwaihir, one of the problems is that conflicts of interest may be quite subtle. If a “judge” earns a constant salary, then do they benefit from featherbedding and spinning out hearings as long as possible?

    Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Each one of these “judges” knows that they only got their job, because the “judges” and lawyers before them, stretched hearings out, to pressure the Government to allocate more money and appoint more “judges”. They will do the same, to help their younger brethren. Throw away the expensive shoes and suits and $95 underpants and arrogance and its just another ponzi scheme! It is all beneficiary mentality!

    So this same “judge” will happily wait patiently, while legal-worker EO makes his case to remove a father as guardian, while everyone in the courtroom knows that there is no legal basis. So, no legal basis, this means that the time wasted is legal-worker’s-aid fraud unfolding under her nose, pure and simple. Does the “judge” blow the whistle on this crime, unfolding in Albany? No NO NO.

    This wasted time prevents the father from achieving what was easily possible in the time available. The mother’s legal-worker’s-aid bill was increased by about $1,000, for no value at all. The Government lost value, as nothing was achieved by the “judge”, when it could have easily been achieved progress in the hearing.

    So, the worst crooks are not the legal-workers, but the “judges”, happily supervising the rort of Government funds.

    Just robbing the poor, to give to the rich….

    Similarly, does a legal-worker MP benefit, when the Government allocates more money, for the benefit of the legal profession? Again, not immediately, but in the long term, YES YES YES. Our non-legal-worker MPs should be much more careful, about allowing legal-worker MPs to take part in votes, where there is a large impact on legal profession benefit.

    So Dr. Nick Smith’s indiscretions appear to me to be quite inconsequential, compared to the many votes where legal-worker MPs took part….

    We must have plenty space in our jails, for these crooked legal-worker MPs. Maybe a good place to start, is Sir Douglas Graham, the architect of the Domestic Violence Act?

    What are your suggestions?

    Cheers, MurrayBacon – conflicted axe-murderer.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Thu 22nd March 2012 @ 6:00 pm

  3. Have a look at tv7/courtreports There is an interesting discussion with Judith Collins.

    It is followed by an American program “Justice – What,s the right thing to do?”

    Both excellent discussion starters for erudite students as we all are!

    Comment by Gwaihir — Thu 22nd March 2012 @ 9:12 pm

  4. The new DSM Manual was developed with a requirement that conflicts of interest be declared. This paper suggests that transparency ie declarations, may not satisfactorily protect the public from the effects of unmanaged conflicts of interest.

    A Comparison of DSM-IV and DSM-5 Panel Members’ Financial Associations with Industry: A Pernicious Problem Persists

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sat 30th June 2012 @ 10:10 pm

  5. John Banks found 50% guilty NZ Herald

    I do feel quite a bit of sympathy for him. He was caught out by careless attention to detail, thus technically committing a crime.

    The bigger issue of big money buying political influence remains unaddressed. Both Nabour and Lational parties are big users of trusts to hide the true identity of their sponsors.

    The only way that the public can gauge political influence, is to try to perceive the difference between public pressure and legislative outcomes and try to infer hidden forces at work.

    This is easy to see with Sky City and gambling legislation.
    Not so easy to see with alcohol industry actions.

    These problems pervade the world, lookup corruption in Russia and China, let alone India and USA.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Thu 5th June 2014 @ 3:07 pm

  6. Sympathy, really. Remember when he cut the Northland Community College down to make a name for himself, the tertiary educational facility in his own electorate.

    If Karma is a bitch, it sure nailed his arse.

    Comment by Downunder — Thu 5th June 2014 @ 3:34 pm

  7. John Armstrong: Banks will take verdict hard

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Thu 5th June 2014 @ 5:30 pm

  8. The need to escape one’s past only satisfies other people’s expectations.

    That’s what neither the commentor or the commentee have determined – you need only to understand it.

    Comment by Downunder — Thu 5th June 2014 @ 5:54 pm

  9. John Armstrong: Banks will take verdict hard

    Clearly not as hard as ordinary people for whom a judge would not delay entering a conviction.

    Comment by Man X Norton — Thu 5th June 2014 @ 8:17 pm

  10. A billion people have been affected by the unmanaged change from the use of sucrose (cane sugar) to fructose (corn sugar) in commercial foods, in the 1990s.

    A large player in “supplying” fructose to a largely unsuspecting public, has been Coca Cola Corporation. To be fair, this list also includes almost all other food manufacturers around the world, including takeaway foods.

    Now that Coca Cola is helping to fund research into diabetes, Lancet is reminding people to watch for any unethical impacts, from the obvious conflict of interest.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sun 4th October 2015 @ 11:11 am

  11. Your homework, if you choose to accept, is to watch “The Insider” and then write an essay on the likely outcomes from allowing the familycaught$ to supervise its own professional practice, without working public accountability.

    Most people dismiss analysis of conflict of interest as cynicism and paranoia, whereas the criticism only shows their oen naivete. It takes a lot of knowledge and experience of the world, to see the potential and real dangers of conflict of interest.

    The film “The Insider” beautifully portrays the un-education distributed by the nicotine addiction delivery industry, until the truth slowly eventually seeped out and influenced policy. It is important to understand these knowledge diffusion processes and work to speed them up.

    I do recommend watching this movie, for it’s excellent education about conflict of interest.

    Another essay topic, also close to home, is Why do politicians talk about limiting alcohol or gambling sales, but do so little in practice?

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sun 4th October 2015 @ 11:21 am

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