Armstrong on Field

August 5th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Then Prime Minister Helen Clark stood Field down as a minister and appointed Noel Ingram, QC, as a one-person inquiry. Ingram’s report raised extremely serious questions about Field’s behaviour and should have been immediately referred to the police.

Apart from slapping Field across the wrist for making “errors of judgment”, Labour instead held its nose and stuck by him for fear of alienating its large Pacific Island vote. Labour was wary of provoking him into holding a byelection in his Mangere seat. Crucially, he also held a casting vote in Parliament .

But they were generally winning confidence and supply votes by a dozen vote margin or so.

The biggest lesson may be to prime ministers to be more careful about playing politics when it comes to setting up inquiries. Labour thought it could get the outcome it wanted by limiting Ingram’s ability to investigate the allegations against Field.

The corruption cover-up.

Despite that handicap, Ingram produced a report which was damning of the MP. Ingram can hold his head high. The QC is alone in emerging from this affair with his credit enhanced.

Ingram did a fine job. And kudos also to Lockwood Smith who prosecuted the case against Field and Labour in the House so efficiently.

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17 Responses to “Armstrong on Field”

  1. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,746 comments) says:

    Labour was very corrupt. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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  2. david (2,556 comments) says:

    But but but dpf, at the time the Ingram Report was released, it was hailed as a monumental non-event by critical commentators as a partisan whitewash by the right and a vindication by the left.

    It really did take a while for Noel Ingram’s carefully laid minefield to be recognised for what it was and for Lockwood Smith particularly to hone in on a couple of crucial gaps. In fact it was what wasn’t said rather than what was which finally got Labour (and Field) on the back foot.

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  3. Crampton (215 comments) says:

    David, doesn’t it make a difference that losing Field would have made Maori and Green support marginal rather than inframarginal? With Field, it didn’t matter as much whether either voted with the government. Without Field, it did.

    [DPF: It made a small difference but as UFNZ and NZF were not guaranteed to vote with Govt on all non-confidence issues, it did not really make it a lot harder for Clark to pass laws.

    I'm also not sure how valid a defence it is to keep a corrupt MP in your caucus, on the basis that losing his vote would make governing harder]

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  4. Crampton (215 comments) says:

    Oh: I’m not saying it’s a defense. But if a system tends to produce very tight minority governments, this may be one of the expected results. Agree that it was much less of an issue in the Field case as in the Peters case later.

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  5. 3-coil (1,215 comments) says:

    1 Why do the main-stream-media refer to Field only as the “MP” convicted of corruption, when it was in fact far worse – he was a “Minister” in Clark’s Labour government.

    2 Does Field still retain the title “the Honorable TPF” or is he now stripped of that obviously inappropriate honorific?

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  6. Gavfaemonty (61 comments) says:

    3-coil: “Does Field still retain the title “the Honorable TPF” or is he now stripped of that obviously inappropriate honorific?”

    He’s got two, I think, as Taito’s an honourific under fa’a Samoa. Interesting to see which stays and which goes.

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  7. big bruv (13,725 comments) says:

    I have been listening to Radio Live this afternoon, not surprisingly Willie Jackson (and 99% of his racist supporters) think that “good old Phill” should not do any prison time.

    Their justification seems to be based solely on the colour of Fields skin, it seems that the only crime Field committed was the crime of being found out.

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  8. KiwiGreg (3,249 comments) says:

    “2 Does Field still retain the title “the Honorable TPF” or is he now stripped of that obviously inappropriate honorific?”

    Well of course “Taito” is an honorific as well so Phillip Field is doubly honorable!

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  9. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    Bruv – Looks as if rentabro moved from Field to Otimi to radio live talkback

    (from the herald)

    “The small courtroom was packed by Otimi supporters, some of whom had protested at the recent Taito Phillip Field case”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10588790

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  10. trout (937 comments) says:

    No mention of the Field affair in the General Debate in the house this arvo. I did not hear it all but surely this was an opportunity for the Nats to put on record a chronology of the whole sorry affair and the involvement of present Labour MP’s. Is it a no go area?

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  11. OldNews (38 comments) says:

    I didn’t realise Field had been an Immigration Minister – this never came up in any of the other coverage. Should have been more of a focus! This makes it quite clear cut.

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  12. JustRight (31 comments) says:

    Meanwhile, over at The Standard the chaps & chapesses are flat out trying to tar & feather the Govt on ministerial housing. Desperate to distract from the fact that a corrupt individual was given oxygen in the name of political expediency. Desperate to re-write history. Desperate to lump ministerial housing allowances into the same box as old Phill’s illegal and immoral behaviour.

    Desperation seems to be the name of the game there! Instead of the bellyaching, scaremongering and otherwise poor use of oxygen, why don’t they do this instead….

    Come up with some useful suggestions, new ideas & innovative thinking, which will help solve our productivity & economic growth challenges. Think about how social services can be delivered cost effectively. Think about how to raise wages without resorting to inflexible union based ‘hold the employers to ransom’ schemes.

    The Labourites need to apologise profusely for sheltering Field. They need to apologise for their expediency and being complicit in his deceptions. I expect this to never happen of course as they still have sought understanding as to why they were booted from power last year.

    The lack of ability to self-analyse stuns me. No actually it excites me as it will gift National another 2 terms (at least)

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  13. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    It was interesting listening to Dr Michael Bassett on Nine to Noon, Radio NZ this morning regarding the Taito Phillip Field conviction.
    One of the things he mentioned was that the standard/quality of MPs since MMP has operated has fallen significantly.

    I wonder too, whether MMP actually ‘encourages’ corruption as shown in Klark’s/Labours’ support for Field despite them knowing at least some, if not all, of the facts regarding his actions. But still supporting him nonetheless. That is, political expediency trumps, in this case, corrupt MPs.

    I have a strong sense that there was greater accountability and transparancy under FPP.
    What do others think?

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  14. thedavincimode (6,710 comments) says:

    Justright

    They don’t NEED to apologise for anything. It would be as utterly pointless and meaningless as the great flapping seagull himself.

    They are already trying to re-write the history of this little saga. And even now the scribes and bullshits artists will be fabricating a load of weasle words to explain away this little embarassment. That’s why the little arselick Hughes had nothing to say. They haven’t finsihed making it up yet.

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  15. sooty (63 comments) says:

    What about Winston Peters troughing it. When is he going to pay back the money? Is he going end up in the dock and get his snot trimmed? Another member of a corupt goverment. We now know why Komrad Klark bailed out before any court cases where settled. Imagine her still sitting in parliment, how could she stand it? She did all she could, which was to run as fast as she could.

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  16. gravedodger (1,552 comments) says:

    Krisk, I think you are on a lode here but I would expand it by saying Mr Field had an untouchable aura by virtue of his enormous majority which must have had a diluting effect on his responsivness to reality. The same effect seems to me to permeate the thinking of list MPs who have a detatchment from reality when most of their political contact is ‘incestuous and/or removed from the electorate at large

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  17. bubbsie (11 comments) says:

    Right on the button dodger, just keep shuffling along and you’ll be fine !

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