27 Mar 2009

ACC minister out of his depth, says Labour

7:08 am on 27 March 2009

The Labour Party launched an attack on ACC minister Nick Smith in Parliament on Thursday, saying he is out of his depth.

The comments stem from Dr Smith's controversial appearance at a select committee review of the financial status of the Accident Compensation Corporation in March. He took the place of the newly appointed ACC chairman, John Judge.

Dr Smith's appearance at the meeting outraged Labour MPs. They accused the minister of trying to gag the ACC from defending itself from his criticisms of its financial management - which Dr Smith denied.

On Thursday, Labour made a number of claims about Dr Smith's performance in the House, saying he had hundreds of ministerial briefings yet to be read and complaints from officials about him.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English defended Dr Smith, saying he is just dealing with the aftermath of Labour's mismanagement as the previous government.

Labour also grilled the chairman of the select committee, National's David Bennett, about his involvement in Dr Smith's appearance.

Following the meeting Dr Smith defended his actions, saying Mr Bennett had invited him to take Mr Judge's place, as he was unavailable. Mr Judge was on a cycling trip at the time.

The House was told on Thursday that Mr Judge would appear before the select committee next week.