6 May 2010

Labour accuses ACC minister of bullying woman

5:47 pm on 6 May 2010

ACC Minister Nick Smith has been accused of bullying a woman who is protesting the Accident Compensation Corporation's policy on funding of counselling for sexual abuse victims.

The Labour Party questioned Dr Smith in Parliament on Thursday about the policy introduced last year which restricts counselling to those who suffer from a diagnosed mental injury.

Labour says it means many sexual abuse victims are not getting help and many are suicidal.

Dr Smith last week announced a review to assess the impact of the policy change.

In Parliament, Labour's deputy leader Annette King asked Dr Smith why he telephoned Louise Nicholas, who was at the centre of the police rape investigations and who is protesting the policy.

"Berating and bullying her, saying the courageous women who signed T-shirts to highlight their concerns at his policy were part of a fiasco and a media circus, and if she wanted to speak out the only appropriate forum was his review," she told the House.

Dr Smith rejects Ms King's assertion, but says it was appropriate to direct Ms Nicholas to the review.