So, a heap of personal information about ACC claimants gets sent by mistake to another ACC claimant, including information about sensitive claims, and instead of doing the decent thing and alerting ACC to the horrendous mistake, the recipient is alleged to have tried to use it to gain a personal advantage, and a prominent National party person is there backing her up. Smells bloody fishy just as it is.
But then it all gets worse. It turns out that the ACC minister had previously written a letter in support of the recipient, urging her case for her. Her case to get a benefit from ACC, that is.
He said it was written in his personal capacity. You can read about it on Radio New Zealand News.
I said as a friend, I knew you in that period and in a personal capacity. And I made absolutely plain it was a personal capacity, that I knew her prior to that period and my view in terms of the state of her health and employment prior to that period.
But here’s the funny thing. It seems that the letter was written on ministerial letterhead.
So that’s the minister in charge of ACC, writing to ACC, on his letterhead, urging that this person’s claim be supported.
Looks pretty damn official to me. Or is this just yet another example of National party ministers confusing the public and the private, and thinking that what benefits them and their mates necessarily benefits New Zealand?
Yes, we know Ministers of the Crown have friends. I’ve got friends too. And I know damned well that if one of my friends turns up in my classes, then I make a careful separation between my friend and my student. I ensure that I don’t give her extra assistance over and above the assistance I would give to any of my students, and I get all her work marked by someone else, and I keep everything as open and above board as possible. That’s what an ethical person does. And it’s not at all difficult to work out.
Dr Smith, if you write a letter in your personal capacity, then at the very least, don’t use your Ministerial letterhead to do so. And preferably, don’t write the letter at all, given that it’s your very own department.