Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:
Community services claimed by David Cunliffe on his parliamentary biography have proved difficult to pin down.
Today, The Dominion Post takes a look at the early life of Labour’s new leader.
Gaps were identified over the course of the investigation in the “community activities” section of the curriculum vitae the New Lynn MP has posted on Parliament’s official website.
A spokesman for Cunliffe confirmed his office had requested work at Auckland City Mission be removed from the webpage. He said it was a “mistake”.
It comes after inquiries to the homeless shelter could not confirm if he had ever carried out volunteer work there.
Wellington City Mission was also contacted, as the New Lynn MP also cited work with its budgeting service on his CV.
Manager Jill Hilston said she has worked there 18 years and could not recall him. Cunliffe’s spokesman said he gave budgetary advice in 1987 and 1989, some 10 years before he entered politics as the MP for Titirangi.
“He did it once a week, or once every second week.”
Cunliffe also claims to be a member of the Waitakere Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society. However, the spokesman admitted he is not a “current” member.
Committee member Chris Bindon was not aware he belonged to the branch.
“I can’t tell you the last time I saw him at a Forest & Bird event or meeting, I have to say. We have weekend field trips … but I have never seen him on one in my time. I’ve been on the committee since 1989.”
Oh dear. This could be very bad. if you had been leader for a decent period of time, then a revelation like this would cause some damage, but not necessarily impact your overall brand because it will be built up on other stuff you have done. But when you have been leader for just one week, and the public are yet to work out what they think of you – such revelations can be much more damaging.
It was also difficult to locate anyone who recalled him being a Public Service Association (PSA) official, during his time at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Cunliffe was a diplomat for eight years, starting his career in Wellington, before postings in Australia and the United States.
His curriculum vitae said he was a union delegate for three years, between 1987 and 1990, and co-convener for a year. The PSA’s electronic records do not go back that far, and the union could not produce anyone who remembered his activities.
Massey University marketing expert Claire Robinson sat alongside him in the European division, and also could not remember his PSA representation.
Maybe the unions are starting to regret their 70% vote for him!
“He remembers doing it and being involved in pay negotiations,” the spokesman insisted.
“He has a clear memory of it, but not clear enough to say who his co-convener was.”
This story will not go away on the basis of “Trust me, I did it”. The media will keep interviewing and asking people until either the claims are verified or they are acknowledged as “padded” (to use a gentle label).
The other problem for Cunliffe is once there is smoke in one area, other claims over the years will now be investigated. I can just imagine certain people pouring over old speeches for selection and election meetings.Tags: David Cunliffe