3 News reports:
A defiant independent MP Brendan Horan arrived back at Parliament today, vowing to fight for more transparency around MPs’ pay rises. …
He even wants to run for re-election come 2014.
“I am here to stay,” he says.
Mr Horan may even start his own party.
“I’m keeping all my options open in that regard.”
Maybe he should call any party the Transparency & Accountability Bloc Party, or the TAB Party?
Mr Horan’s also planning to campaign for more transparency for MPs’ pay rises, after an increase was announced just before Christmas.
“It’s not what the average Kiwi wants to hear when you’ve got thousands of people losing their jobs and being made redundant,” says Mr Horan.
He’ll try and amend a bill that’s already before Parliament, so the public know what MPs’ pay increases are before each election.
On that issue, he is on the right side. Chris Hipkins has also said he supports such a change. Hopefully it may happen. The salaries and allowances should be set prior to each election for the entire term.Tags: Brendan Horan, MPs salaries
Tony Wall at SST reports:
MP Brendan Horan has filed a High Court affidavit in which he says his political career is “in tatters” over claims he stole money from his mother, and believes the executor of her estate should be removed because he is not handling the allegations fairly as he will not listen to Horan.
It is the first time the former NZ First List MP has responded to the allegations in depth since the Sunday Star-Times broke the story in November. Horan was sacked from NZ First by leader Winston Peters, but is resisting calls to resign from Parliament, saying he has done nothing wrong.
He and his sister, Marilyn Bleackley, have jointly applied to the High Court at Tauranga to have John Buckthought, their mother Olwen Horan’s nephew, removed as executor.
Horan says in his affidavit he has “lost confidence in [Buckthought's] ability to administer the estate in an even-handed way”.
He wants the Public Trust to take over running the estate, and new forensic investigators appointed to go over his mother’s financial records.
It may not be a bad idea to have a totally independent executor.Tags: Brendan Horan
Another episode in the case against Horan in the SST:
MP Brendan Horan used his mother’s credit card to pay for accommodation while attending a race meeting and campaigning in New Plymouth, it is alleged.
He also allegedly used the card to buy a cheap suit, to stay at a motor lodge in Hastings and to pay a veterinary bill for his horse.
The Sunday Star-Times last week obtained hundreds of pages of Horan’s mother’s bank statements going back to 2000. They show that Olwen Horan’s cards were being hammered while she was terminally ill and bedridden before her death in August.
There are two issues here – legality and morality. I’m surprised with all this evidence, that no one has gone to the Police.
But even putting aside the legality, I think it is morally indefensible to be spending up large from your dying mother’s credit card as if they were your own.
The Star-Times can reveal her credit card was used at the Dawson Motel in New Plymouth on May 27, 2011. Horan was in New Plymouth overnight on May 26 to attend a race meeting, and made a speech to a Grey Power meeting on behalf of Peters when Peters’ flight was diverted due to bad weather.
Maybe NZ First should refund some money also!
In August 2011, the card was used to buy a suit at Barkers menswear in Papamoa for $99. Horan had boasted at the time about it being a bargain.
A bargain indeed!
Horan last week told Radio Live his relationship with his mother was such that if he ever required anything, “all I needed to do was ask”.
He said there may have been cheques from his mother, but no-one had shown him specifics.
“She may have given me some cheques… mothers tend to do that.
“And if she did, so what?
And it might well be legal, if she agreed. But considering the codicil to the will, it suggests she did not. But again regardless of the legality, most people would not regard his actions as ethical.Tags: Brendan Horan
Former NZ First MP Brendan Horan says he will stand for Parliament in 2014 and in the meantime will remain to “work for taxpayers [and] all New Zealanders”.
NZ First severed its final links with Mr Horan on Monday night after confirming that his membership had lapsed once he informed Parliament’s Speaker Lockwood Smith that he was remaining in Parliament as an independent.
Mr Horan was expelled from the NZ First caucus after leader Winston Peters said he had lost confidence in him. He had received “substantive” information after allegations about money from Mr Horan’s late mother’s estate.
Mr Horan, who continues to receive his backbencher salary of $141,000 plus an expense allowance, told Radio New Zealand he had a mandate to remain in Parliament and represent the people of Tauranga, who voted for him.
He got 12.88 per cent of the vote in Tauranga, third behind National’s Simon Bridges on 61.4 per cent of the vote.
Horan has no mandate to represent those 4,611 people who voted for him. He lost. He came third. He became an MP not because of those 4,611 votes for him, but because NZ First placed him on their list and they got 147,544 votes.
Lots of people got 4,611 votes or more in the electorate vote and are not MPs. James Shaw the Green candidate in Wellington Central got 5,225. Paul Foster-Bell got 12,460. By Horan’s logic they have more of a mandate than him.
Mr Horan said details would be released this week discounting allegations that he took money from his late mother’s estate.
That will be very interesting.Tags: Brendan Horan, Winston First
Under-fire MP Brendan Horan has consulted police and the Privacy Commissioner about the leak of his phone records.
The bill from his taxpayer-funded mobile phone showed numerous calls to the TAB. But Mr Horan said he had not broken any rules and the calls added up to only about $20.
Mr Horan appeared to be pointing the finger at NZ First leader Winston Peters yesterday, saying the leaking of his calls “for political gain” was “grossly irresponsible and reckless”.
Mr Horan originally authorised the release of the records by Parliamentary Service, after Mr Peters asked to see them.
Now Mr Horan says the leaking of telephone numbers “jeopardised the protection of innocent people” who had contacted him confidentially.
I think Peters had the right to release them, but they should have blacked out all phone numbers on the statements except the ones to the TAB.
After meeting last night, the NZ First board released a statement saying that Mr Horan, “by his own action in notifying the Speaker that he be regarded as an independent Member of Parliament, had in doing so, relinquished his membership” of the party.
This looks like an attempt to get around the requirement in their own rules for a hearing into any expulsion. But on the face of it they are lying. Hansard records:
Honourable members, under Standing Order 35(1)(c) I have been advised by the New Zealand First Party that its parliamentary membership has changed and that Brendan Horan is no longer a member of the New Zealand First Party for parliamentary purposes. Accordingly, under Standing Order 34(4) Brendan Horan is from 4 December 2012 regarded as an Independent member for parliamentary purposes.
There is no mention by the Speaker about Horan notifying the Speaker. Peters did.
I think Peters has made the right ultimate decision, but that doesn’t excuse the total lack of any sort of fair process, let alone trampling on his party’s own rules. It is hypocrisy especially as Peters went to court over National’s non-selection of him in the 1990s.
This just confirms that NZ First isn’t a real political party. It is a personality cult. They haven’t even managed to elect a Deputy Leader more than a year after the election.
Tags: Brendan Horan, Winston First
The NZ Herald reported:
Independent MP Brendan Horan’s last links with New Zealand First – the party which took him into Parliament – are likely to be severed following a board meeting on Monday evening.
The NZ First party rules clearly state that a member can be expelled only after a hearing, and that Horan must be sent by registered mail notice of the hearing and details of the nature of the complaint, the date, time and place of the hearing. Has this been done?
NZ First president Kevin Gardener yesterday confirmed Mr Horan’s membership was on the agenda for the board’s Monday meeting where Leader Winston Peters was expected to give his reasons for expelling him from the NZ First Caucus this week.
Mr Peters yesterday said he was relaxed that his decision to expel Mr Horan following allegations the MP had taken money from his dying mother’s bank accounts was the right one.
Mr Gardener said he had confidence in Mr Peters’ judgement, “and all the board will”.
Good God – not a big believer in natural justice or hearing both sides are they? This confirms that the party is a personality cult rather than a democratic organisation.
On the basis of what is known, I actually think Peters was right to take action against Horan. But the way they have taken action has been appalling in terms of process. They need to write to him and put the complaints to him, and have a hearing where he can put a defence. I also suspect (based on the precedent Peters himself created with National in the 1990s) that any board member (such as the President) who has pre-judged the matter can’t be part of the hearing. If they do not follow their own rules, they can face judicial review.
Tony Wall in the SST reports:
MP Brendan Horan offered to pay $25,000 to his mother’s estate after he was accused of taking money from her bank accounts, but the deal collapsed, the Sunday Star-Times has learnt. …
Sources close to the family say they offered to settle the dispute by allowing Horan to take a $40,000 reduction in his share of his mother’s estate. …
The Star-Times yesterday saw a spreadsheet of 28 questionable cheques, totalling $180,000, going back to 2000. The largest, in February 2007, was for $50,000, and there were others for $35,000, $10,000, and several for around $5000. Investigators are still looking into who they were made out to.
If this is correct, I think its is fast becoming a criminal matter. I’m not saying any crimes have been committed. I’m saying that allegations of $180,000 of presumably unauthorised cheques are extremely serious.
If NZ First follow the process laid down in their rules, they can make a decision to expel Horan (if justified) before Christmas. Once there has been a process which has some natural justice attached to it, then he should resign from Parliament having lost the support of his party.Tags: Brendan Horan, Winston First
Vernon Small at Stuff reports:
Sacked NZ First MP Brendan Horan is defending his use of a parliamentary phone to ring a TAB bet line, saying it was personal use that was allowed.
But his former leader Winston Peters says that is “humbug” and such use was outside the rules.
Records seen by The Dominion Post show Mr Horan used his taxpayer-funded parliamentary mobile phone to call a TAB phonebet number 12 times in the space of about four hours on Saturday afternoon, April 28.
In the records, which covered a less than one month period, he called the bet line on nine other occasions.
Mr Horan said he was entitled to call who he wanted but did not deny the calls to the TAB.
He has strongly denied having a gambling problem, and has also rejected allegations he took money from his dying mother.
He said he did not have his phone records so had no way of confirming it. “Look up the rules; people can use their phones for anything.
“There is fringe benefit and people can use their phones for a certain amount of private business. Whatever I use my phone for is my private business.”
But Mr Peters yesterday said that was “humbug”.
“That’s not private business is it? If you’re ringing up your husband or your wife or your children, that’s understood to be legit, that’s private business. How could that be?”
The issue of Horan using his mobile phone is a red herring. You don’t sack an MP from your party because of some calls to the TAB from his mobile. Horan is correct that there is no restriction on what numbers MPs can call from their phones. It is interesting that Peters is releasing what is normally private information on Horan to discredit him.
Meanwhile, respected New Plymouth horse trainer John Wheeler yesterday said Mr Horan would ring him maybe five or six times a year, often to check on weather conditions when he was planning to dive for crayfish, and would ask about how certain horses were going.
“He did not strike me as a guy with a [gambling] problem.”
He had never seen Mr Horan put a bet on and from their conversation had struck him as “a $5 each way kind of bloke”.
He had not seemed obsessed, though he knew his horses well.
“Either he had a good memory or he did a lot of study.”
He did not think ringing the betting line 12 times in one day was out of the ordinary.
Wheeler would himself place small bets and may call six times on one day.
For my 2c, I think 12 calls in four hours does indicate a potential gambling problem. But that is not even the issue. The issue is whether he took money from his mother’s bank account without permission to gamble with.
On 3 News last night Patrick Gower said Horan “doesn’t deny ringing the TAB or putting a few bets on with his mother“.
So I think what we have is that bank records will show Horan took money from his mother’s account and gambled it at the TAB. However his defence will be that they were bets either on behalf of his mother or joint bets with his mother.
I don’t see that there is an easy way to prove or disprove whether or not his mother authorised the bets, but here’s what Id be looking for.
- Did she have a history of gambling at the TAB herself?
- When there were winnings from a race, who got them – just Horan or did some go back to his mum?
- Do phone records show frequent calls between Horan and his mum, which might indicate they were discussing bets?
If Horan can show some history of his mum being an active gambler herself, then his defence may have credibility. However I would still make the point that if, as indicated, her wealth dropped by almost $100,000 over a couple of years – it is not exactly a good look to have enabled this.Tags: Brendan Horan, Winston First
There are some interesting issues about Horan’s future. There are four aspects in regard to his future role.
- His membership of the NZ First Caucus
- His membership of the NZ First Party
- His affiliation in Parliament
- His membership of Parliament
With regard to the 1st, the NZ First caucus is the master of its own destiny. They can make their own decisions and rules, subject to any rules laid down by the party itself. But the party does have some rules. Rule 60(a) states:
The Parliamentary Division consists of the members of the Party elected to the House of Representatives.
Rule 60(b) states:
If a member of the Parliamentary Division ceases to be a member of the Party that person ceases to be a member of the Parliamentary Division.
But Horan is still a member of the party. Now you can argue that these rues don’t stop the caucus suspending an MP, or even expelling him. But it seems the caucus has not made any such decision on Horan. It is unclear if they have even had a discussion on the issue. Also Horan claims no allegations have even been put to him directly:
A defiant Mr Horan, speaking through his lawyer, said he would stay on as an independent MP.
“His question was, ‘Why should I quit, what have I done wrong? Just because Mr Peters has expelled me, and I have been convicted in the court of Mr Peters’,” Mr Horan’s lawyer, Paul Mabey, told Radio Live.
“Mr Horan is the subject of unproven allegations which he completely denies. None of the allegations have ever been put to him directly nor has he been shown any evidence to support them.”
It is very unclear that Peters has the power to unilaterally declare Horan has been expelled from caucus, or even that he will be expelled from caucus. However the only people with standing to challenge this are other members of the caucus.
Possibly Peters can argue he has authority under 59(b):
The Leader shall exercise all authority necessary for the effective organization of the Party’s activities in Parliament.
Amusingly the party leader is also the only MP exempt from paying a 10% tithe to the party!
But there is an important point here. Leaders should not have the power to unilaterally expel MPs from caucus. I think it is good that Winston has acted swiftly against Horan, but I assumed he had at least put the issues in writing to Horan, given him a chance to rebut them, and then make a recommendation to caucus. That might take a couple of extra days, but as Peters had known about the allegations for three months, then a couple of extra days wasn’t significant.
The next issue is whether Horan is still a member of the NZ First party. Under the NZ First constitution he clearly is. Rule 10 sets out the process to terminate membership. It is:
- Board receives complaint that a member has had conduct that is offensive, undesirable, or inconsistent with the welfare and interest of the Party.
- Board decides to hold a hearing
- The member is notified, by registered mail, within 14 days of the nature of the complaint, the date, time and place of the hearing, and that the member can be held
- The Board can then after the hearing expel the member.
Now Peters has said Horan’s expulsion from the party will be “automatic”. This is deeply hypocritical and cuts across Horan’s rights under the rules. I’d say it means Peters can’t be part of the Board’s deliberation and opens their decision up to judicial review.
Why it is hypocritical, is Peters himself took National to court in the 1990s over their decision not to approve him for selection, effectively kicking him out of the party. It is a classic case of do what I say, not what I do.
We now have the third scenario, of Horan’s affiliation in Parliament. Standing Order 35(1)(c) states:
A party must inform the Speaker … of its parliamentary membership
All that is needed here is a letter from the party leader. His or her word is treated as authoritative. At this stage it does not appear Peters has written to the Speaker declaring Horan is no longer part of the parliamentary caucus.
Finally we have whether Horan can remain as an MP. The answer is yes, unless he is convicted of a crime with a maximum sentence of two years or more, or resigns.
Some have argued for a return of the electoral legislation that expels an MP from Parliament if they are no longer a member of that party. But what we have seen with this case is exactly why we should not have such a law. A party leader could then expel MPs at whim, without even bothering to have a caucus vote. Muldoon would have loved such a power.
I do believe Peters has done the right thing in acting against Horan if there is substantive proof of wrong-doing that Horan can’t credibly rebut. But the process he has followed has been seriously flawed and dictatorial and for Peters especially very hypocritical.
The final piece of hypocrisy:
He declined to comment further outside the House, saying he had made his statement under parliamentary privilege to avoid possible legal action. “I am not going to be subject to people spraying defamation writs.”
This is the same person who threatens people on a regular basis with defamation writs and has sprayed a few around himself, including against David Carter.Tags: Brendan Horan, Winston First
Winston Peters announced today to the House:
In recent weeks, a number of allegations had been made against Mr Horan, most of which arise from a family matter. The allegations are of a nature that requires that they should be treated seriously. Accordingly, I requested from the original complainant and those associated with him evidence to support their allegations. I also instructed Mr Horan to give every priority to resolving this family matter, so that I could be assured that those allegations were without foundation. Until a few days ago, we had not been furnished with any evidentiary material from any of the parties in this dispute. However, substantive material has now come into my possession, some as recent as 2.15 p.m. this afternoon. The information we have received leaves me in a position where I have no confidence in Mr Horan’s ability to continue as a member of Parliament, and he will be expelled from the New Zealand First caucus forthwith. Mr Horan has a duty, I believe, to resign as a member of Parliament. Lastly, this is a bitterly regrettable situation, but we had to place our decision on the public record as soon as we were in a position to make it.
It is good to see Winston holding his MPs to a higher standard than he held himself to. I understand that when the allegations were put to Horan, he simply sat in a room and held up a no sign to Winstons’s questions
Okay, being more serious I do give credit to Winston for his handling of this. As ACT did with Donna Awatere-Huata, he investigated serious allegations and as no satisfactory answers could be given, moved to expel the MP from the party.
It stands in stark contrast to the shameful behaviour of Labour over Taito Philip Field, where they not only refused to take action, but actively defended him.
Of course Winston did hand pick Horan to be his successor in Tauranga, and the episode overall is not positive for NZ First. And Peters did know about the allegations for a couple of months, before acting on them. However again overall I say Peters has handled this issue pretty well.
Credit also goes to Tony Wall and the Sunday Star-Times who broke the story. On the basis of what was published I thought the story was premature and should have waited for the forensic accounant report . But they obviously had confidence that the allegations were substantive, and it appears they are at least substantive enough for Peters to expel Horan. They made the call, and got it right.
On the basis of what has been reported, the behaviour is allegedly criminal. Hence why Peters spoke under parliamentary privilege. And in terms of the law Horan is innocent until proven guilty. But the fact he has been unable to provide evidence to convince Peters does suggest he has real problems in the future.
Horan is now an Independent List MP. Unless he is charged and convicted of an offence that has a maximum penalty of over two years jail, he will remain an MP until he resigns. He says he is staying for now, but I suspect he will find Parliament a very lonely and unfriendly place if he does.
Of course if he can clear his name, and prove he has done nothing wrong, then he may have a future. But for NZ First to expel him suggests they are convinced of serious wrong doing.Tags: Brendan Horan, Winston First
Barry Soper at ZB reports:
The political future of New Zealand First MP Brendon Horan is expected to be decided some time today.
NZ First leader Winston Peters has been examining documents relating to Mr Horan’s late mother’s bank account, and is expected to decide whether the MP will stay with his party.
Mr Horan has been accused by his brother of dipping into his mother’s bank account to fund a gambling habit.
This might be trying to read tea-leaves, but the fact they are announcing something so quickly may mean it is bad for Horan. It tends to be quicker to establish wrong-doing than it is to be certain there is no wrong-doing. I have no inside knowledge at all on this, so am just speculating.
Mr Peters last week told him to stay away from Parliament to sort the matter out and he is not expected back at Parliament today.
That also implies maybe not so good for Horan. We’ll find out shortly.
Of course Horan is an MP and can’t be sacked by Peters or his party – even if they decided there were grounds to do so. At most they can remove him from NZ First.
But of course it may be that Horan is cleared entirely. As I have blogged previously many families have disputes over wills and it does not mean there has been wrong-doing.Tags: Brendan Horan, Winston First
Danya Levy and Tony Wall report at Stuff:
The mother of NZ First MP Brendan Horan spent money on operations and a new car in the years before she died, a close family source says. …
A family source said yesterday Mrs Horan “spent like a trooper” in the years before she died.
She bought a new Mazda 6 and spent money on operations and plastic surgery in an attempt to save her failing eyesight and her nose after she was diagnosed with skin cancer, the source said.
This just reinforces to me the need to suspend judgement until some facts are established. There is obviously a family dispute, but I don’t know whether or not there has been any wrong-doing by anyone.
Mr Peters twice yesterday refused to express confidence in his MP and reiterated he was still waiting for facts from the family on allegations he described as “very serious”.
That, combined with the fact Peters sent Horan home to sort this out does indicate there is some concern that the allegations could be correct. But again, nothing has been substantiated at this point.
If the allegations are proven, and Horan goes as an MP, then the new NZ First MP would be Helen Mulford. She is currently at 80% on Ipredict to become eligble to become an MP before the next election.Tags: Brendan Horan
The front page lead for the Sunday Star-Times yesterday was:
Forensic accountants are investigating the estate of New Zealand First MP Brendan Horan’s mother, amid allegations that large sums of money were misappropriated from her bank accounts over several years.
I read the full story, and couldn’t see the public interest in it – let alone making it a front page.
It is a sad reality that families have disputes over estates.
A source familiar with the accounts said: “There is a lot of strange activity going on, a lot of TAB withdrawals.”
The implication is that Horan may be responsible – but as far as I can see there is no proof of this – and it would be fairly easy to track down who was gambling at a TAB at the time of withdrawals etc.
In today’s Stuff it is further reported:
NZ First MP and former weatherman Brendan Horan is welcoming forensic accountants investigating the estate of his mother, saying he wants to clear up allegations large sums were misappropriated from her bank account.
The Tauranga-based list MP said the matter was a family dispute and he was “disgusted” it had been dragged before the public. …
There have also been allegations of many TAB withdrawals.
It is understood the allegations have come from Mr Horan’s brother, Mark Ormsby, also known as Mana and Te Karera, who is a long-term sickness beneficiary.
I think it is regrettable that the allegations were given oxygen and prominence without any proof of any wrong-doing by Horan. If there is going to be an examination by an accountant, then why not wait for the results of that before running a front page article insinuating wrong-doing?Tags: Brendan Horan
First some family history:
My waka is Tainui of which Hoturoa was the captain
My iwi is Ngati Maniapoto
My hapu, Ngati Hikairoa
On my European side I am descended from Orm, the Viking.
Orm lived around 750 AD. He was reputed to have killed a large bear with one blow of his fist. I think Sonny Bill Williams should have fought Orm instead.
Because amenities were affordable we regularly visited the local swimming pool and developed civic pride, 20 cents entry fee.
Compare that to my local council swimming pool Baywave in Tauranga where entry and hydroslides costs 8 dollars for local children.
It’s no wonder children struggle to swim and one of my goals is to have gold coin entry to all swimming pools for all NZ school children.
Brendan was born in 1961 so presumably the 20c was around 1968 – once decimal currency came in. The CPI was 70 in 1968 and today is 1158, so in today’s dollars that 20c would be $3.30. So $8 is over double what it used to be, in real terms.
“Evil thrives when good men and women stand by and do nothing”
So I ask now – how can NZ have the highest child brutality and murder rate in the OECD , how can this possibly be NZ when we start the year with a baby being murdered in a small town, a 16 year old boy assaulting and raping a 5 year old girl and a young father being stabbed to death while sitting in his car waiting for a medical prescription.
The foul stench of these crimes lingers over our entire nation, but in particular those of us in the house today – as it has happened on OUR watch.
And further …
The protection and safety of all NZ children must be paramount.
We are all aware of the need – and decisive action must be taken.
If we have to step on a few toes and offend the politically correct – then so be it.
I’d be interested to hear what he has in mind.
This NZ First economic plan will operate in the absence of secrecy.
Cough, cough Spencer Trust.
To be fair, that was Winston’s baby. No one else in NZ First even knew of it – not even the Party President!
Our people are some of the most creative, innovative and forward thinking to be found anywhere.
But currently we are marking time and quite frankly we need to embrace, support and speed up the rollout of ultra fast broadband.
The mobile digital revolution is accelerating at an exponential rate.
Countries with established broadband are rapidly going mobile and that is going to have massive implications for business, education and the health sector.
The digital revolution is still in its infancy, I agree.
The full speech is after the break.Brendan Horan, maiden speech