Reaction to Privileges Report

September 23rd, 2008 at 1:51 pm by David Farrar

I’ll start with Colin Espiner:

On the report, I think the committee did an excellent job. It cut through all the Peters verbiage and red herrings and bluster. It simply didn’t believe him and rightly found him guilty of misleading Parliament. It recommended his censure. That is an extremely serious step, and any minister of the Crown would be sacked for such a finding.

Indeed. Someone commented the last Mp to be censured was in 1975. Could the historians amongst us find the last time a Minister of the Crown was censured and lost his job.

Except Winston Peters. Labour’s handling of this crisis has been nothing short of shameful. Every day Prime Minister Helen Clark and her deputy on the committee, , have found a different excuse for why Peters should not be sacked. There is simply no wiggle room left. So instead they’ve started attacking the committee itself. And this is perhaps the most shameful approach of all. The privileges committee used to be seen as beyond reproach – powerful, elite, Parliament’s highest body. Its decisions were unquestioned.

Labour claims the committee has been politicised and it has – by Labour and NZ First. The only attempt to hijack its findings was made by those members, not those who questioned Peters and found his answers wanting. How Labour can say it is National that has hijacked the committee when its own support parties – the Greens and United Future, and the Maori Party – all sided with National and Act beggars belief.

I think it is the maxim that if you repeat a lie enough time, then some people will believe it.

If, in Parliament today, Labour again attacks the committee and tries to vote down its findings, Parliament will have reached a new low in my opinion. Labour should accept that it lost the fight at the committee and respect its majority verdict. That’s what happens in our justice system when you’re found guilty by a jury of your peers.

I predict Labour will spend most its time attacking John Key and not taking the censure seriously.

Next we have John Armstrong:

Winston Peters’ letter of resignation as a minister ought to be on the Prime Minister’s desk this morning.

It won’t be. However, the damning report of Parliament’s privileges committee demands nothing less, even though its finding that Peters is in contempt was not unanimous.

You really have to wonder sometimes why Helen Clark refusesto take any meaningful action against Peters. Instead she runs attack lines on his behalf against the Privileges Committee and the SFO.

But he cannot get such accusations to stick when it comes to the Greens, United Future and Maori Party representatives who made up the remainder of the majority view. Those parties had no axe to grind with Peters. They simply reached the only conclusion that could be drawn from the evidence – that Peters had “some knowledge” of Glenn’s intention to make a donation.

The next time Clark runs the line that the Privileges Committee finding is politically motivated, ask her why (one of her Ministers) and support the finding?

The big question is whether she can ever trust him again. With National not wanting a bar of him, it would now seem inconceivable that Peters could again become a minister even if Labour wins the election.

Not at all. If Peters makes it back and can give her a fourth term, of course she’ll have it back. Why else would you go through all the pain now, if not to do a deal later.

Labour’s reluctance to upset Peters with rigorous questioning during his appearances in front of the committee was understandable given Labour’s dependence on him for the past three years and conceivably for the next three as well. But it is to Labour’s eternal shame that it behaved thus.

In the end, the majority verdict is a victory for principle over expediency and for the integrity of the privileges committee.

Eternal shame is a good phrase.

We also have Frog from the Greens:

It does make me wonder weather the Team LPG fanboiz should really be getting so grumpy at Green supporters for not wanting to declare our undying love to Helen Clark and Labour. Because it seems from its recent behaviour that Labour has already found its preferred coalition partner, and it’s Winston Peters, come what may. But then I guess Labour doesn’t have so much to gain from a internet campaign for Team LNZF?

Can one imagine Helen Clark defending a Green MP to the extent she has defended Winston?

You also have comments from two of the MPs on NZPA. First Peter Dunne:

United Future leader Peter Dunne said he had gone into the committee with an opinion: “I entered the committee thinking this was probably a beat up.”

But after hearing evidence he changed his mind.

Mr Dunne said Mr Peters had repeated opportunities to give his side.

“Really I think the committee genuinely tried to get to the bottom of what went on and reached its conclusions accordingly.”

Mr Dunne said crucial for him was contradictory evidence and then “cute” recall of events by Mr Peters’ lawyer Brian Henry after evidence was presented.

So Dunne went from thinking it was a beat up, to deciding on the evidence that Peters knew about the donation and should have declared it.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman disagreed [with Helen Clark]. He said he went into the inquiry with an open mind and based his decision on the evidence put before him.

So is Helen calling Russel tainted or unfair?

Dr Norman said the committee’s chairman, National MP , ran a fair process.

In fact even Michael Cullen went out of his way to say that Simon Power was very fair as the Chairman. I think that is a huge credit to Simon for the way he has conducted himself.

As one minor example of his integrity I was talking to him on an unrelated issue a few weeks ago. I had heard on the radio that Owen Glenn would be testifying but not whether or not it would be in person or by video conference. So I just asked Simon whether it was in person or not as I happened to be speaking to him. Simon, just to avoid even the possibility or suggestion of having an inappropriate conversation, just referred me to the press release the Committee had put out. Now I wasn’t asking for anything which wasn’t public, but Simon erred on the side of caution by not even answering my question but just referring me to the press release. He has bent over backwards to be fair and impartial in this matter.

Finally, I note that Jim Anderton is going to show a tiny amount of spine and abstain rather than vote against the Privileges Committee recommendations. Don’t give him too much credit though as he repeat the bullshit from the PM that the process has been unfair to Winston. He does at leats ping Peters for his hypocrisy:

“NZ First was clearly accepting donations at a time when it was attacking everyone else for taking money from big business. For that the party has some explaining to do to the voting public,” Mr Anderton said.

Perhaps Mr Anderton could offer an opinion on whether he, as a member of the Cabinet, felt he should have known about the donations from the Velas to Peters, when he voted to go along with Winston’s generous funding for the racing industry?

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20 Responses to “Reaction to Privileges Report”

  1. slightlyrighty (2,496 comments) says:

    Anderton’s move in this regard is interesting. I had always thought that Jim was joined at the hip to labour in a way that not even Winston was. To abstain in this instance is tantamount to a vote for censure as far as Anderton is concerned.

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  2. goodgod (1,363 comments) says:

    God almighty the coalition government is corrupt. I have never seen such a collection of nasty self serving liars and thieves.

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  3. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    Oh come on DPF “you really have to wonder sometimes why Helen Clark refuses to take action against Peters”

    You have been around politics long enough to know that where your political buddy is deep in the do dos then you both agree to to a separation for a period and then when the dust settles you have a reconciliation What you dont do is stick together to ensure MAD UNLESS the guilty party has the wood on you and has threatened to pull the trigger if you separate.

    There has been no political sense sense the SFO declared it was investigating Clark has abandoned Politics 101.

    She and Cullen are now firing elephanty guns at imaginary targets.

    Why? Well if its not the reason I have advanced and wont now repeat at your request it has to be sometimes else outside of politics

    Because there is no longer a valid political reason for Clark/ Cullen to stick with Luigi

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  4. Viking2 (11,127 comments) says:

    Better question. Did he (Anderton ) know about the Vela donations at that time. Being so close to the action it is farcical to think that none of them knew.
    So how about the forth estate actually asking the question of Anderton.

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  5. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Whatever dirt Winston has on Helen is must be really “hot gossip”.

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  6. coventry (316 comments) says:

    ‘Hot Gossip’ – weren’t they once on the Kenny Everett show ?

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  7. Hagues (711 comments) says:

    I wonder if Brian Henry’s reaction would be “it was a bit of fun” just like he thought it would be. Or perhaps he isn’t finding the fact that he has been shown to lie for his client and look like a complete muppet isn’t all that fun after all.

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  8. sbk (308 comments) says:

    Just read on Stuff that the committee tested it “retrospectively”!.Now doesnt that give you a case of the chills.

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  9. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    If I were the Greens, then I’d be pissed. Given the choice of one of two coalition partners:

    1. NZ First: Liars who have been accepting bribes in return for government favours. Racists who think nothing of abusing Koreans and anyone else with a foreign accent or non-pink skin. And hypocrites who have criticised others for minor transgressions of rules while breaking those rules themselves. And…
    2. Greens.

    … then Labour decides they prefer NZ First.

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  10. dave strings (608 comments) says:

    >
    >>I predict Labour will spend most its time attacking John Key and not taking the censure seriously

    10 bonus points and promotion to chief seeer of the blogosphere!

    Winston did no wrong that I have seen but Key misled the public – sums up the responses of H1 pretty clearly I think. Most amazing was the vitriol she was able to bring to her statements regarding JK’s purchase of shares.

    The most amazing question today was from Winston himself though. He started with something like “Is it true that you can’t break a law that doesn’t exist? Naturally the Minister agreed. He went on to ask the same question, in different words, three more times, then asked the Minister, who had answered in the affirmative each time, if she agreed that this meant game set and match! She replied that if four affirmative answers constituted game, set and match then it was, indeed, game set and match. The speaker moved on to the next question!

    I wonder what defense Old Winny is developing for the case he is clearly expecting to face from the SFO? That it’s not illegal to not declare money received through a trust as income, pecuniary benefit or anything else?

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  11. labrator (1,745 comments) says:

    I’m with Owen on this, Winston must have something huge.

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  12. mikh (33 comments) says:

    …John Armstrong’s comment …to Labour’s eternal shame…is amazingly strong coming from him. I’d be surprised if we don’t see/hear it repeated many, many times in the next few weeks.

    What sort of powergrip does Peters hold over Helen ?

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  13. coventry (316 comments) says:

    ‘I’m with Owen on this, Winston must have something huge.’

    Equine attachment maybe ?

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  14. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    dave strings

    Ross Meurant

    Bag of cash

    Kermadec

    Affidavit

    Connect the dots

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  15. PhilBest (5,117 comments) says:

    Hmmmmmm………..

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  16. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,811 comments) says:

    So to sum up, the CLARK/PETERS AXIS is CORRUPT, CORRUPT, CORRUPT.

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  17. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Can you explain what you mean OECD?

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  18. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,811 comments) says:

    Everything might not be above board regarding the CLARK/PETERS AXIS.

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  19. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Oh!? Hulun, Mikhael and Winnie are cheating scum? Fuck me…

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  20. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,811 comments) says:

    Who would have thought?

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