Scoop’s Campbell on Privileges

September 10th, 2008 at 2:13 pm by David Farrar

Some good analysis from Gordon Campbell at :

With hindsight – or even you’d think, with foresight – it was not a great idea for to be leading the Labour bloc’s attempt to dent ’s testimony to the privileges committee. It only made Cullen, Russell Fairbrother, and Paul Swain look like they were doing legal work for Winston Peters pro bono, by challenging Glenn’s powers of recall. That is not the position the Clark government should be taking, right now.

Yes the pro bono legal team for Peters, I like it.

Wheeling up Cullen, Labour’s big gun and deputy chair of the privileges committee for the task of trying to trip up Glenn’s recall and command of detail only had a vague chance of triggering a meltdown – or boilover – from the billionaire witness. Tackling Glenn about who phoned who and spoke to whom back in 2005 also never looked like overturning the basic issue of whether Peters had gone out actively soliciting the money. The Labour effort just looked like nitpicking, or worse.

Cullen spent minutes obsessed over whether Glenn called Peters back or Peters called again in relation to an earlier phone call (not the one that triggered the donation).

Being faithful to the laws of natural justice and due process is all very well. Yet the government’s fidelity to Peters is starting to look suicidal and willful. Leave it too late – and we have probably gone past that point already – and sacking Peters will just look like rats leaving a sinking ship.

The Government could have established the truth about this issue many months ago. They have no one to blame for dragging it out, but themselves.

That was why the Glenn appearance in person, was so crucial. Before then, there was still an outside chance that the committee could be plausibly uncertain on the issue of credibility between Peters and Glenn. If so, the committee’s findings would have split along party lines – thus leaving Peters an escape route with the voters. Not any more. The balance of credibility has tilted decisively, in Glenn’s favour.

Yep. Even Helen is backing away her preposterous “innocent explanation” stance.

Barring miracles from Peters in his rebuttal testimony tonight, this episode is all but over. What Glenn produced was a timeline fleshed out by email and telephone records. While those records were incomplete on certain fine points – as in, was it Peters ‘or someone from New Zealand First’ who contacted Glenn in late November 2005 ? But from then on through the crucial period in December 2005, Glenn’s oral evidence and supportive email/telephone records were credible, and utterly damning to Peters.


By way of collateral damage, the Glenn testimony has heightened the prospect of Clark being asked to appear before the privileges committee.

She should be asked to appear, so she can testify whether or not had any discussions with her at all in 2005 over the desirability of Owen Glenn helping out NZ First and/or Winston Peters.

The Glenn testimony also achieved what the partisan politicking by National could not do. It has linked the Peters affair to Labour in detail and in spirit, and has made the government’s behaviour towards one of its main party donors look desperately shabby. As Glenn told John Campbell on TV3, these are not the sort of people you’d want alongside you in the trenches. Because they would push you out.

And probably gnaw on your bones afterwards!

In December 2005, Williams may have given a green light for the donation only in general terms, and was almost certainly not privy to the subsequent transaction – but this happened in circumstances where he would have been fairly sure the transaction would proceed The nature of the nine floor gossip mill also makes it inconceivable that the upper echelons of the government’s parliamentary wing would not have subsequently known informally about the Glenn donation to Peters …

Of course. Williams hold back on details of donors to Labour, but something affecting a parliamentary partner would be notified to the leadership.

… the subsequent tactical choice by Labour to try and denigrate Glenn is unfortunately, all too typical. Someone, someday may make a list of the people the Labour government has abandoned over the course of this decade in the name of expediency, and its own survival. Karmically, one of those people who was being fitted for the dud parachute has now struck back. Winston, barring miracles, will be the next to be jettisoned.

That would be a long list.

12 Responses to “Scoop’s Campbell on Privileges”

  1. Lee C (2,987 comments) says:

    NO way would Helen appear before that committee, she would dump Winston and call an election rather.

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  2. democracymum (642 comments) says:

    It is perfectly understandable that Labour would try and slur the good name and reputation of Owen Glenn

    It is the same tactics they used against Don Brash, The Bretherens, and more recently “Slippery John Key”

    I think it it a wonderful irony, that the two people most likely to be responsible for bringing down
    the Labour government will be Owen Glenn and Winston Peters.

    The political equivalent of scoring an own goal!

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  3. Ross Miller (1,762 comments) says:

    Lee C is right on the money (perhaps a poor choice of words but!!!!).

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  4. RmW (30 comments) says:

    Something I’ve wanted to ask, and wonder why it hasn’t been talked about more, is: The PR advisor Steve Fisher, managing director of Baldwin Boyle, who advised Glenn to ‘agree with Peters in public’ way back when. Why was Glenn being advised to lie or at least agree with Glenn? Who were they working for? Glenn or Peters?

    The email was leaked to the media. If you assume the PR company was working for Glenn then he should be annoyed about it. What motivation did they have in leaking the emails? Can they be trusted with anything? Or was it Glenn who leaked them once he’d seen Peters denying the donations on TV (and thought he’d throw a bit of petrol on the fire?).

    Another explanation could be that Baldwin Boyle were working for Peters on this.. But, again, it begs the question: why the leak? In any case, it doesn’t endear much faith that a high-level adviser is leaking stuff to the press.

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  5. GerryandthePM (223 comments) says:

    So far Peters has been permitted to pack his own parachute.

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  6. beautox (500 comments) says:

    Sir Owen Glenn has such a nice ring to it. Hope John boy does the right thing..

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  7. Frank (320 comments) says:

    It is Helen Clark, who is commiting hari kari and dragging her political allies into oblivion.

    Where was the Electoral Committee in September 2006? Hiding its head like an ostrich in the sand, while bribery and corruption raged round it!

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  8. Bagehot (27 comments) says:

    Demise of the kingmaker

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  9. GPT1 (2,155 comments) says:

    Just on the recall of who called who I would make the point that an honest witness will seldom be infalliable. A witness who identifies the difference between fact, recollection and what they can and cannot recall is more likely to be an honest witness.

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  10. radvad (956 comments) says:

    The gnats should now give Glenn that Monaco consuls job.

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  11. slightlyrighty (2,423 comments) says:

    I see TV3 is broadcasting Peters’s testimony live from 7:30. I look forward to Peters making a complete tool of himself during Prime-time!

    May have to set the DVD recorder for this one!

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  12. DJP6-25 (1,779 comments) says:

    The events of the last few days have made me wish I was in New-Zealand, not Korea, so I could go to some of the parties and other events people are having to celebrate NZ First’s minor problems.

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